The BYU Men’s Rugby program has a proud and distinguished history. The team is one of the most successful programs at BYU, producing several national championships, Collegiate All-Americans and USA National Team members.
Rugby was first played at BYU in the late 1800’s, but as football began to grow in popularity across the country, rugby took a backseat and didn’t appear on campus again until the 1960’s. It was officially recognized as a BYU sports team after being founded in 1962 by BYU student John Seggar. After graduating in 1967, Seggar became the Head Coach of the program and coached off and on for a total of 15 seasons.
Standout players David Smyth, Dean Ormsby and Mark Ormsby helped the team gain national prominence after leading them to multiple National Collegiate Tournament appearances. In 1987, however, the tournament changed the Friday-Saturday game format to Saturday-Sunday, preventing the Cougars from participating.
Coach Seggar retired shortly after the tournament’s announcement and Smyth, Ormsby and Ormsby took over the program as co-coaches after graduating. After a few years in charge the three handed the reigns over to Vernon Heperi, who later became head coach. Smyth returned to the program in 1991 and assumed coaching responsibilities for the Cougars, where, besides a short stint from 2002 to 2005, he remained the head coach until the end of the 2018 season. Jared Akenhead took over as head coach for BYU during the three years Smyth was gone, and coached multiple players to All-American recognitions.
In 2004, USA rugby returned the post-season tournament to a Friday-Saturday format, and BYU once again began participating and competing for national championships.
The Cougars have since become one of the most dominant programs in the country. They have won five national championships in the past decade: 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. They have produced 47 Collegiate All-Americans since 2001 and five Pacific Coast All-Stars. Nine former Cougars went on to play for the USA National Team, competing in World Cups and other international competitions.
Former BYU team captain, national champion, Collegiate All-American and Pacific Coast All-Star Steven St. Pierre took over as head coach at the beginning of the 2019 season. St. Pierre and his staff plan on continuing the rugby program’s success-filled history and maintaining BYU’s national prominence.
“We just want to continue the awesome heritage and legacy that is BYU rugby,” St. Pierre said. There have been a lot of great players who have worn the jersey, and we just want our players to recognize and respect that legacy by putting forth their best effort always.”
St. Pierre also hopes to develop his players into the best version of themselves on and off the field during his time as head coach.
“We want to put out a good product on the field but also help to develop the students off the field as well,” St. Pierre said. “We want to help them become good providers for their families, good husbands, good fathers, good sons, good members of the Church, future leaders in addition to great rugby players. The wins will come as long as we’re doing all those other things as well.”