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Fans watch as BYU rugby dominates Air Force in 2016 home opener on Feb. 27, 2016

Back at South Field for the first time since April 2015, the Brigham Young University Cougars kicked off the 2016 home schedule against the Air Force Zoomies with a solid 80-8 win on Saturday, Feb. 27.

“I credit Air Force for making the trip and coming out strong both halves,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. “They kept running hard all 80 minutes. Our boys stuck to our game plan which paid off in the victory.”

Air Force put the first points on the board in the fourth minute of the match capitalizing on a penalty giving the Zoomies an early 3-0 lead over the Cougars. An 11-minute Cougar scoring drought was put to an end after BYU’s junior flanker Ara Elkington scored a try. Sophomore center Calvin Whiting’s conversion was good bumping up BYU’s score to 7-3 over Air Force.

“Air Force came out strong at the start of the game,” said Whiting of the beginning of the match. “Ara’s try helped set the tone for the rest of the game.”

BYU then went on to score three more tries over the next 20 minutes with tries from wing Josh Anderson, prop Ricky Tu’ihalangingie, flanker Jackson Kaka and wing Kevin Schofield respectively. Whiting made the next three out of four conversions increasing BYU’s lead to 33-3 before half-time.

“Our forwards not only did really well in the scrums today,” said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti who coaches the forwards. “We also got to see several tries from them as well.”

The Zoomies started off the second half strong putting together several attacking phases that led to their only try of the match at the 41st minute. BYU’s Ryan Blaser answered with a try two minutes later. Whiting made the conversion increasing BYU’s lead to 40-8.

BYU kicks off home schedule against Air Force on Feb. 27, 2016 at South Field in Provo

Brigham Young University's South Field will be graced by the presence of loyal rugby fans for the first time since April 18, 2015 as the Cougars kick off their home schedule with a match against the relentless Air Force Zoomies this Saturday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m.

"I'm excited to start our regular season schedule against Air Force," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of Air Force. "They're fit, disciplined and never give up. Our fans will have a blast."

Hungry for the chance to rebound from their last match, the Zoomies lost to University of California-Berkeley 65-12 on Saturday, Feb. 20. Since 1968, the Air Force Academy rugby team is known for its rich rugby tradition with three national championships in 1989, 1990, and 2003. 

"Air Force will be focused and ready to play," said BYU rugby team captain and scrumhalf Luke Mocke. "We'll need to stick to our game plan and play as one. Last week was a close match so we know we've been working hard in practice to take our playing to another level."

The Cougars are coming off a close 30-29 win on the road against St. Mary's in Moraga, Calif. last Saturday. Fans watched as four different Cougars scored tries against a tough St. Mary's team in an intense 80-minute battle. Last week's match saw fantastic play in the lineouts against St. Mary's by BYU's junior lock Matt Jensen who also scored a try in the contest. Fans will be able to see gritty, consistent play by the Cougar forward pack against Air Force.

"This year's forward pack is experienced and ready to go to work," said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti who coaches the team's forwards. "We have been doing well in the scrums. Our forwards tackling well and have been working hard in the rucks."

BYU rugby finishes with 30-29 victory over St. Mary's Gaels in California

Moraga, Calif.- Proof that the best teams play till the very end, BYU rugby's defense worked to hold off St. Mary's late comeback and finished with a 30-29 win at the lush, green pitch of St. Mary's in California.

"Our boys worked hard for the win despite St. Mary's bringing everything they had the full 80 minutes," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of St. Mary's late push in the second half. "We credit St. Mary's for playing hard through the entire match."

After both teams went scoreless during the first ten minutes of the match, St. Mary's capitalized off a Cougar mistake by putting three points on the board thanks to an accurate penalty kick. It wasn't until BYU's Kevin Schofield scored a try at the 22 minute mark that the Cougars were able to get on the board. Seeking to capitalize on his team's momentum, BYU's no. 8 Joe Pikula scored BYU's second try two minutes later increasing BYU's lead over the Gaels 10-3.

Seven minutes after Pikula's try, St. Mary's scored their first try of the match at the 29 minute mark. At the 33 minute mark, BYU's Jared Whippy converted a penalty kick changing BYU's lead to 13-8. Jared, who played at fly half in today's contest, made the conversion following the try scored by his twin brother, Joshua, at the 38 minute mark before the Cougars held the lead at half-time, 20-8.

"We knew we had to stay focused going into the second half despite our 12-point lead at the end of the first half," said Jared Whippy of St. Mary's intensity. "We always to need to play our best."

BYU rugby travels west to play St. Mary's

A matchup featuring two of the top American collegiate rugby powers, the St. Mary's Gaels will host the traveling BYU Cougars at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, in Moraga, California.

"St. Mary's always brings their best on game day," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the Gaels. "Staying fully focused throughout the match combined with a balanced attack will be key to ending Saturday with a victory."

Last year's contests against St. Mary's resulted in close scores as the Cougars came from behind with a 32-28 victory in Moraga and winning the second game against the Gaels 35-26 at BYU's South Field. In their last three matches, the Gaels outscored their opponents 165-32.

"We have many scoring options on our team which will help us," said BYU senior scrum half Luke Mocke of BYU's athletic backs and forwards. "We'll need to be in constant communication on the field when we play St. Mary's."

Mocke, team captain and All-American, will play a key role in the team's connection between the backs and forwards. Much of this year's forward pack's success will rely on the play of BYU sophomore hooker Alex Vorster. A relentless tackler with a high rugby IQ, Vorster continues to bring the same intensity he did on the field which helped the Cougars complete an undefeated 2015 season that culminated in a Penn Mutual Varsity Cup victory over the Cal Golden Bears. 

"We look forward to Saturday's matchup against St. Mary's," Smyth said in anticipation of Saturday's game between BYU and St. Mary's. "We know this weekend will be a battle and are ready for the challenge."

Fans can watch the game at this link.

BYU Rugby 2nd XV return to Provo following win over Dixie State University

St. George, UT- With St. George's iconic red rock as the backdrop, the BYU rugby 2nd XV defeated Dixie State University rugby at Snow Canyon High School with a final score of 53-12.

"The team played well together today, which resulted in a hard fought and deserving win," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. "I was pleased to see the efforts of everyone who saw time on the field against Dixie State."

Both sides came out strong with only 10 points seperating the two teams 25 minutes into the first half. After an elusive run beating a few defenders, walk-on junior Sam Merrill ran 60 meters to score and put the Cougars up 15-0.

The Cougars scored another converted try thanks to Freshman Zach Webber, and went into the half time break leading 22-0.

Despite a late offensive rally by Dixie State, the BYU Cougars were in control for most of the game, and fans watched BYU junior winger Ryan Lever score two of BYU's nine tries. Eight different Cougars put points on the board. BYU freshman Paul Campbell scored one try and kicked another 10 points through the uprights. 

BYU's forward pack managed to outsmart and outwork their bigger Dixie State counterparts by creating scoring opportunities and spreading the ball wide. Forwards coach Ishmael Tilialo said "Our more experienced players like Ben Keith and Wineera Elkington stepped up and lead from the front, which gave our younger players the confidence to attack."

The Cougars credit their conditioning and simple game plan to helping them win by 41 points.

"We remembered to play simple and support our runners throughout the 80 minutes on the field," said BYU junior fly half Joseph Nicholls who captained the Cougars today. "Our conditioning and coaching continues to pay off every game."

BYU rugby's next match is in Moraga, Calif. where the first XV will play St. Mary's on Saturday, February 20.

Game notes:

BYU Rugby Reserves Starting XV:

BYU Rugby reserves take on Dixie State in St. George

The BYU Rugby reserves team will take on Dixie State University in St. George on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

"It's always a great opportunity to see what our different players are capable of when playing in-state teams," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU's reserve team representing the Cougars. "We will be able to experiment with different combinations and develop our reserve players."

BYU last played Dixie State in the Red Rock Invitational on January 22, 2016 which ended in the Cougars top side scoring 45 points while holding the Red Storm scoreless in Nevada.

This weekend's game will feature BYU freshman scrum half Kingston Matua and BYU senior prop Steve Livingston. Matua's quick feet and on-field leadership will be key against Dixie State as he works to ensure the backs and forwards are in-sync throughout the match. Livingston returns this 2016 season with greater responsibility as he hustles in every ruck and leads BYU's defense with his tackling ability.

Fans will be able to attend the game at Snow Canyon High School in St. George, Utah. Kick off is set for 12:00 p.m.

GAME CANCELLED - vs Colorado

Due to recent snowfall in Grand Junction, we have had to cancel this weekends game.

The field will not be ready for play by Saturday, especially with added snowfall expected tomorrow. 

We apologize for any inconvenience, but we wanted to let everyone know immediately so plans can be changed. Thank you for your continued patience and support.

 

The team's next game will be Saturday February 13th at Dixie State University.

BYU's Calvin Whiting makes the transition from HSAA to BYU rugby

BYU rugby's sophomore center, Calvin Whiting, greets everyone he meets with a smile, but has the ability to turn on his aggression when it's game time.

"I've always been able to turn my mind on [to game mode] when I need to," Whiting said of his ability to channel his mental focus into whatever he pursues. "I tell myself that this is business."

Whiting, 20, spent the first fifteen years of his life in South Africa in what he describes as a competitive home. He learned early on how to commit and work towards a goal thanks to his competitive relationship with his older brother and older sister. Whiting's mother and father divorced near the beginning of his time in high school leading his mother to move to Utah in pursuit of a fresh start. Not wanting his mother to go through the transition on her own, Whiting chose to follow her to Utah where his rugby career started to mature.

Despite donning a helmet and pads for one season on Lone Peak High School's football team, Whiting's love for rugby turned to a focused passion which resulted in him putting in the work as a rugger. Whiting's hard work earned him a spot on the United States high school All-American team helping him take his abilities to the next level.

"The expectations for being a high school All-American is high class," Whiting said of his experience representing the U.S. as a high schooler. "You're always fighting for your position. You are always expected to work hard and have great fundamentals. It's important to put in the work even when you're not with the team."

Playing with his fellow high school All-Americans helped him develop his skills and increased his knowledge of the game Whiting added. The competitive environment prepared him to be a contributing member of the five-time national championship BYU rugby team.

BYU rugby travels to Mesquite to play six teams in 2016 Red Rock Tournament

The BYU Rugby team will travel to Mesquite, NV to play in the Red Rock tournament against six teams from January 22-23 after beating Utah 82-17 last week in St. George, UT. 

"We have an exciting weekend ahead of us as we take on several teams down south," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. "I look forward to our team playing this weekend to see the results of their hard work."

A collegiate rugby team with five national titles, the BYU Cougars had more than ten different players score tries against its home-state rival, University of Utah, last week in a scrimmage with twenty minute quarters. This week's tournament in Mesquite will have two twenty minute halves.

BYU's schedule in the 2016 Red Rock tournament is as follows:

January 22

  • vs SLCC at 1:00 p.m.
  • vs UVU at 2:00 p.m.
  • vs Dixie State at 3:00 p.m.
  • vs Weber State at 4:00 p.m.

January 23

  • vs Idaho State at 10:00 a.m.
  • vs UNLV at 11:00 a.m.

For BYU rugby fans, who plan to attend the Red Rock tournament, the address is Mesquite Sports Field 1635 World Champion Way Mesquite, NV 89034.

BYU Rugby starts Varsity Cup title defense following Utah Scrimmage

BYU rugby started off its 2016 season with a scrimmage against Utah on Saturday, January 16, at Snow Canyon High School in St. George, UT.

“Hats off to our team today in our scrimmage against Utah,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s 82-17 win over the Utes. “All of our players fought hard. It was great to try out different combinations as we start the 2016 season.”

The Cougars look to defend their Varsity Cup title following an undefeated 2015 season that ended in the Cougars gaining their fourth consecutive national championship and fifth overall.

BYU’s forward pack led the way with tough play thanks to several returning players including sophomore hook Alex Vorster and junior prop Zane Mendenhall.

“We have a very experienced forward pack so we can expect to see smarter rugby,” said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti who coaches the forwards. “We have to get more physical, but I also want to see a bit more finesse and flow.”

As the forwards continue to improve, the back line led by senior scrumhalf and team captain Luke Mocke look to capitalize on opportunities as the Cougars progress towards regular season play.

“I’m excited for this season because of the amount of potential we have based on the production we saw from different teammates,” said Mocke of BYU’s multiple offensive threats. “I know we’ll continue to have success thanks to our great coaching.”

BYU will go on the road again next week to play in the Red Rock Invitational Tournament in Mesquite, NV from January 22-23, 2016.

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