SANDY — One season later, the sting remains for Dylan Lubbe.
Lubbe and his BYU teammates expected to add another national championship in rugby to their tally last spring. But their 2010 season ended in disappointing fashion when the Cougars fell to powerhouse California in the national championship game.
For Lubbe, BYU's 40-22 victory over Utah in the annual Wasatch Cup game on Saturday afternoon was not simply about beating a rival. It also offered the No. 2 ranked Cougars a chance to make a statement that they are ready to make a new run at claiming another national title.
"We take our program seriously," the senior fly-half said. "After losing a national championship, there's always that hunger to get it back."
Judging by how thoroughly it dominated the No. 6-ranked Utes at Rio Tinto Stadium to capture a sixth straight victory in the rivalry series, BYU appears more than ready to contend for the top spot in college rugby once again.
The Cougars wasted no time blowing the game wide open in the first half. An early 3-0 lead for Utah evaporated behind 30 unanswered points from BYU.
Jared Whippy opened the onslaught by scoring the go-ahead try. Lubbe capped it off when he tacked on another try following a line out play and added a goal on a drop kick to make it 30-3 for the Cougars in the 31st minute.
Finding a way to answer during that stretch proved impossible for the Utes. The biggest factor behind it was BYU's defense. Simply put, the Cougars found a way to pin Utah in their half for long stretches. With the Utes unable to move the ball, BYU enjoyed a short field on most of its successful try attempts.
Cougars coach David Smyth praised his team for setting the tone early and establishing itself well on both ends of the field.20 comments on this story
"We had a fairly specific game plan to move the ball and get away from their big fellas and look for the gaps," Smyth said. "The boys did a fantastic job of that in the first half. We knew they were going to come hard, so we just wanted to try not to get in any collisions with them, keep the ball wide and shoot the gap."
Utah's attempts to spark a rally in the second half went nowhere. The Utes held BYU to just five second-half points, but managed to score on a try only twice during the same stretch. Utah star Thretton Palamo was effectively bottled up by the Cougar defense and the Utes were held well below their season average of 39.3 points per game.
Winning the Wasatch Cup again is a big thing for BYU because it gives the Cougars a good measuring stick as to where they stand nationally in the sport this spring.
"We've been focused on this game since we started practicing in the fall," Whippy said. "The coaches really emphasized this game, so it was good to get a win."