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2016 Schedule Announced

As the calendar turns to a new year, the Cougars set their sights on a 5th straight national title in preparation for the 2016 season.

 

This year’s BYU rugby squad has a lot to look forward to as they return a plethora of talent from last year’s national championship squad, who defeated California 30-27 in the 2015 Varsity Cup title game at Rio Tinto Stadium.

 

Below is the released 2016 schedule for the Cougars. They will head down I-15 back-to-back weekends to begin their title defense when they take on Utah in St. George on January 16th and then compete in the annual Red Rock Invitational Tournament in Mesquite, NV over the January 23rd weekend.

 

After trips to play Colorado in Grand Junction and a return to St. George to take on Dixie State, BYU will then hit the road to take on northern California rugby power St. Mary’s in Moraga, CA on February 20th.

 

Their first home contest will take place against the Falcons of the Air Force Academy on February 27th, which will then be followed by Central Washington on March 5th, a rematch with the Gaels from St. Mary’s on March 12th, and then another home contest on St. Patrick’s Day against Army.

 

After a March 19th trip to Ogden against Weber State, BYU will return home under the lights for contests against the Aztecs of San Diego State on March 29th, and then close the season with the annual Wasatch Cup game against rival Utah on April 1st.

 

Stay tuned for more specific details of each match on https://rugby.byu.edu/schedule, as times and addresses will be posted closer to gameday.

 

1/16/2016      Utah (St. George, UT)

1/23/2016      Red Rock Invitational Tournament (Mesquite, NV)

2/6/2016        @Colorado (Grand Junction, CO)

2/13/2016      @Dixie State (St. George, UT)

2/20/2016      @St. Mary’s (Moraga, CA)

Summer Rugby & Halfback Academy Camp Dates Announced

Provo, UT–Young rugby fans and developing players will have an opportunity to train with the defending four-time and defending 2014 Varsity Cup National Champions, BYU rugby, from June 15-18 this summer.

Given the success of last year’s additional specialist camp, BYU has again partnered with the Halfback Academy to provide specialist scrumhalf and flyhalf training. The additional Halfback Academy camp will run June 18-19 after the conclusion of the main camp.

“All levels of experience are welcome to participate in our summer camp,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. “We want our campers to have a great time, develop their skills, and increase their love for the game.”

Campers will have the opportunity to work on variety of skills including passing, kicking, agility and tackling. They will have the opportunity to not only learn from Smyth but also assistant coaches Kimball Kjar, Wayne Tarawhiti, Steve St. Pierre, and Kenny Rivera.

Current and former players will also be on hand to assist during the 4-day long camp.

Former Summer Camp attendees that have gone on to success BYU and beyond include many current players.

Freshman Calvin Whiting, who attended last year’s camp and halfback academy and transitioned that experience into a USA High School All American selection and captaincy.

Sophomore Tua Leai also attended the BYU Summer Camp as a high schooler before being selected to the USA U20 National Team that won the Junior Rugby World Trophy in 2012.

The BYU Rugby Summer Camp is the best way for prospective players to meet and work with current coaches and players if their goal is to attend BYU.

BYU’s teamwork leads to fifth national title

BYU wins fourth-straight and fifth-overall national championship with 30-27 victory over Cal on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
BYU wins fourth-straight and fifth-overall national championship with 30-27 victory over Cal on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah

Sandy, Utah – In a gritty national championship that came down to the last minute, the Brigham Young University Cougars (14-0) relied on teamwork to emerge from a punishing 80 minutes as the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup victors marking up a 30-27  win over the California Golden Bears at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, May 2. BYU won its fourth-straight and fifth overall national championship with its first title in 2009.

BYU wins fourth-straight and fifth-overall national championship with 30-27 victory over Cal on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah

“Hats off to Cal for consistently bringing out the best in us,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s rivalry with Cal. “Our boys played together as one, stuck to the game plan and executed. It was close throughout, but we played hard resulting in our fourth-straight and fifth overall national title.”

BYU Cougars Will Attempt Four-Peat Against California Golden Bears

BYU senior Dan Hubert runs the ball against CWU in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. BYU won 35-8 to advance to the championship match against Cal. Photo by Andrea Wride

Brigham Young University rugby head coach David Smyth will lead the Cougars (13-0) to achieve a feat on May 2 at Rio Tinto that has only been accomplished by one college rugby team: four-straight national championships.

The Cougars have four national titles overall which includes the last three championships in a row along with the 2009 national championship. But the only other rugby team to achieve this feat will be not-ironically suiting up against the Cougars this Saturday: California Berkeley.

The Bears own the record of consecutive championships at 12 from 1991-2002. And with a total of 26 titles to their tally, BYU’s four championships seem meager in quantity.

BYU senior Dan Hubert runs the ball against CWU in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. BYU won 35-8 to advance to the championship match against Cal. Photo by Andrea Wride

BYU and California have battled for the championship 8 times in the last 9 years with California owning the series at 5-3. But the Cougars have won the last two meetings in 2013 and 2014 and they know the Bears will be looking to change that recent trend at the 9th meeting this Saturday.

Loving what you do and doing what you love: Getting to know Seki Kofe

BYU senior center Seki Kofe runs the ball against UVU on March 25, 2015. BYU won 109-0 at BYU's South Field. Photo by Andrea Wride

At 6’ 1’’ and 235 lbs., senior center Seki Kofe fits the part of a tough rugby player, but when he greets you with his wide grin it is easy to tell there is more to him than meets the eye.

“I still get nervous for the games,” Kofe laughs in his easygoing way. “It’s intense without pads.”

Kofe has been a key fixture of BYU’s rugby team since his freshman year. The celebrated athlete has won numerous awards and has been instrumental in the team’s back-to-back national championship victories. However, although Kofe has had great success at BYU, it was not always his plan to attend the university.

“My family has always played rugby,” Kofe said. “Originally I was going to play at Arizona State University because I knew the coach, but after my mission to Spain I decided I wanted to go to BYU.”

Although Kofe’s time at BYU has helped him excel academically, spiritually and physically, it has required dedication. His day typically begins before the sun rises and includes physical training, class (he is close to completing his degree in construction management), work and rugby practice. He is home long after the sun has set and works on homework until midnight. Kofe also balances being a husband and his calling as young men’s president in his ward.

“You decide whether you’re committed or not,” Kofe said. “You may not always want to do something, but if you love what you do you get it done.”

BYU beats CWU and advances to Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Championship

Provo, UT—Excitement abounded today on BYU’s South Field as the Cougars defeated Central Washington University 35–8, advancing to the final round of the Varsity Cup National Championship.

The undefeated Cougars fought back an aggressive offense from the CWU Wildcats throughout the game and sustained several injuries. Despite the setbacks, the Cougars played hard the entire 80 minutes and scored consistently.

“Both teams had great defense, but BYU played really well and kept CWU at bay most of the time,” said David Smyth, BYU rugby head coach. “Even when our players were hurt they turned in a winning performance. Nothing stands between us now and the final championship game.”

Linehan, a scrum half affectionately known as “Jonny Rugby” by fans, is a New Zealand native and All-American. He scored the first try of the game. CWU then took the game up a notch and scored a try but were only able to get in a penalty kick for the remainder of the game. Other BYU players who scored include Joshua Whippy, Joe Pikula, Ryan Blaser and Arawa Elkington, who scored an especially impressive try of a stolen CWU pass.

“Central Washington’s front line was strong,” Linehan said. “Our forwards and backs communicated really well throughout the match allowing several us Cougars to score. Being able to play at South Field with our loyal crowd helped us big time.”

Fans from both teams filled the South Field, cheering loudly for their respective team. Among the fans were close to 100 past BYU Rugby players who were there as part of the BYU Rugby 50th Anniversary Celebration festivities. They flooded the field during halftime and were honored by current team members and fans alike.

“We want to thank everyone who has contributed to this team’s legacy and made BYU rugby what it is today,” Smyth said. “Whether current team members, past players or fans, we couldn’t do it without you.”

Rio Tinto Stadium to Host 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Rugby Collegiate Championship on May 2

Salt Lake City, UT - The 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Rugby Collegiate Championship will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, May 2. The Championship is slated for 2:00 p.m. MT and features the winners of the Varsity Cup Semifinals taking place this Saturday. The championship match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.

Media looking to cover the event can apply for a media credential using the following link. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 28.

Utah’s own Brigham Young University advanced to the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinal last weekend, defeating UCLA 45-16, continuing their perfect 12-0 season. The Cougars remain the only college from Utah in the tournament after University of Utah was eliminated for the second consecutive year by Central Washington in a narrow 18-7 loss on April 11.  BYU is next scheduled take on CWU this Saturday, April 18 at 1:00 p.m. MT at South Field in Provo. The match marks the 50th Anniversary of BYU Rugby and will include a flag raising ceremony recognizing the 2014 Championship team.

In the other semi-final pairing, Navy challenges California on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. MT at Witter Rugby Field at University of California Berkeley. Navy got by Clemson 24-23 last weekend while Cal handled Texas 100-7.

The winners from each of Saturday’s semifinal rounds will face off in the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 2 at 2:00 p.m. MT. An updated Varsity Cup bracket can be found here.

BYU plays CWU in the Varsity Cup Semifinals

Provo, UT—The BYU rugby season is quickly coming to an end and the Cougars (12-0) remain undefeated as they head to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals this weekend. The two-day 50th Anniversary Celebration begins on Friday and culminates with the game against Central Washington University on Saturday, April 18 at 1 p.m. MST on BYU’s South Field.

“This has been one of the most exciting seasons we’ve had,” said David Smyth, BYU rugby head coach. “It’s fitting that this year is the 50th anniversary. Everyone involved this semester has given a performance worthy of the team’s great legacy.”

Last week the team played in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup quarterfinals and defeated University of California, Los Angeles 45–16. Although the UCLA Bruins fought hard, the Cougars’ offense and defense came together in a spectacular showcase of strength and determination.

The win last weekend means the Cougars advance to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals and will play against the CWU Wildcats. CWU is most recently coming from a victory against the University of Utah (18–7) and has won a total of eight out of ten games this season.

On the other half of the bracket of the quarterfinals are the California Golden Bears and the Navy Midshipmen. California put on an offensive exhibition last week beating the Texas Longhorns 100-7. Navy, on the other hand, is going into the quarterfinals following a nail biter against Clemson winning 24-23.

Wayne Tarawhiti, assistant coach for BYU rugby, feels the game against CWU will be a good test for BYU in preparation for the winner of California vs. Navy.

BYU Advances to Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals After Defeating UCLA

BYU senior Kody Thompson runs the ball against UCLA. BYU won 45-16 to advance to the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup playoffs. Photo by Andrea Wride
BYU senior Kody Thompson runs the ball against UCLA. BYU won 45-16 to advance to the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup playoffs. Photo by Andrea Wride

Los Angeles, CA – Frustrated UCLA Bruins could not stop the relentless, well-conditioned BYU Cougars (12-0) at UCLA’s North Athletic Field on Saturday, April 11, in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup quarterfinals. With tall, green trees and red-accented brick buildings as the backdrop, the Cougars beat the Bruins 45-16.

“Led by our front row: Zane Mendenhall, Alex Vorster, and Kody Thompson, these boys built a good platform for us to work off, defensively we were able to get on our tackles early and as a result we created scoring opportunities,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. “Fair play to UCLA, they were aggressive and did a good job at disrupting our momentum. Our performance was uneven at times and we had to work hard for what we got.”

BYU senior Kody Thompson runs the ball against UCLA. BYU won 45-16 to advance to the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup playoffs. Photo by Andrea Wride

UCLA was able to make two penalty kicks and try but couldn’t manage much more offensively. BYU’s senior wing Jordan Lowry scored two tries in the win as five other Cougars got on the scorecard. Junior fly half Jonathan Linehan made five out of seven conversion attempts in the match.

BYU Cougars to Battle the UCLA Bruins in LA

Click on image to enlarge

Provo, UT – The undefeated BYU Cougars (11-0) will travel to LA to play a scrappy UCLA team on Saturday, April 11, at 1 p.m. PT. The UCLA Bruins outlasted the Air Force Forces 32-12 last weekend to move on to the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. BYU looks to win its fourth straight and fifth overall national championship.

“We’re anxious to get back on the pitch and continuing working towards our goal of winning the 2015 Varsity Cup,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s bye of the first round of playoffs.

BYU’s pace has been relentless on both ends of the ball during the 2015 season. The Cougars have outscored opponents 769-142 after 11 games averaging about 70 points a game. Any one of the Cougars are capable of scoring due to solid communication and passing by junior scrum half Luke Mocke and junior fly half Jonathan Linehan.

Solid tackling by their forwards has led to a stingy defense as the Cougars recording three shutouts against UNLV, UVU and Utah State. Freshman hooker Alex Vorster has had a solid season thus far making his tackles and helping the Cougars win scrums.

“Every practice, every win has been focused on winning the Varsity Cup,” said BYU captain and All-American Kyle Sumsion. “Consistency has been key in our success.”

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