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BYU, Utah rugby gear up for College Premier Division semifinals

Published: Tuesday, May 10 2011 12:29 p.m. MDT

GLENDALE, Colo. — With their 64-12 win over Navy last Saturday, the BYU Cougars punched their ticket to the College Premier Division's semifinals where they will face the Arkansas State University Red Wolves Saturday at 8 p.m. at rugby-specific Infinity Park in a rematch of a quarterfinal match-up from 2009.

In the other semifinal match, 25-time national champion Cal faces off with the University of Utah at 6 p.m.

The winner of Saturday's matches will advance to the CPD Championship to be held at Rio Tinto Stadium, Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m.

Both semifinal tilts will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, while ESPNU will broadcast the BYU-ASU match in HD on a tape-delay at 10 p.m. Saturday evening.

In 2009, the Cougars won a hotly contested quarterfinal match with ASU, 13-3, in Marietta, Ga. The Cougars eventually won their first-ever national title two weeks later.

BYU head coach David Smyth says the Red Wolves are a much stronger and improved team from what they were two years ago.

"They are good bunch," Smyth said, "They have a lot of players left from that (2009) team and they've added some good pieces since then, so we expect to see a very strong team."

All-Americans hooker Nardus Wessel and utility-man Roland Evans lead the Red Wolves. Both were a part of the ASU team that faced the Cougars in 2009.

The Cougars, meanwhile, will look to all-Americans Viliami Vimahi, Mikey Su'a, Apenisa Malani, Shaun Davies and Dylan Lubbe. Vimahi scored the final BYU try late in the game in 2009 to lead the Cougars past the Red Wolves.

This season ASU stormed through the CPD Mid-South Conference beating LSU, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and others to finish the season at 10-0.

In CPD play, the Red Wolves won by an average score of 53-15 and recently beat a savvy St. Marys team in Jonesboro, Ark., 30-12 in their quarterfinal match-up.

Fullback Danie Swanepoel has ignited the ASU attack this season in tries scored, while flyhalf Patrick Sullivan (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) has notched six tries and scored 116 points overall, third only to BYU's Davies.

Sullivan's leadership of the game and Swanepoel's speed out wide will offer the BYU defense plenty to work on over the coming days.

"We knew that things were going to get tougher and tougher every week as the season went on," said BYU captain Ryan Roundy, "We've been focusing on the little things and this week will be no different. ASU is a good team and it will take us doing all the little things well if we want to come out on top."

In the first semifinal contest, the Bears enter the match with a perfect 18-0 record and a Pacific Conference Championship, while Utah placed second in the Western Conference with a single CPD loss to BYU earlier this season. The Utes upset Army last week in West Point to advance.

Saturday's semifinal match between the Utes and Bears is a rematch of a pre-season tilt that Cal won 35-0 on Jan. 15 at the UCLA Invitational.

The BYU Rugby program is one of the school's most winning sports teams with just 19 losses in over 20 years. BYU Rugby won the 2009 Collegiate National Championship and has promoted 28 players to All-American status. For more news go to www.byurugby.

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