Provo, Utah – The defending National Champion BYU rugby team is set to play host to the Central Washington University Wildcats in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championship semifinals this Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m. MT on South Field.
The Cougars and Wildcats are familiar foes with a recent meeting in 2012 where BYU prevailed 76-7. But BYU head coach David Smyth said he knows this week’s matchup will be a different affair with CWU.
“CWU is a top-flight team,” Smyth said. “They have some very exciting playmakers and are very hard to defend in the open field. And after seeing some of their film from this year its clear that they’re not the same team from last year.”
CWU advanced to this weekend’s semifinal after beating a strong Air Force Academy team last week at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional, 81-28.
And with a 10-1 record on the 2013 season, the Wildcats are setting to do something that hasn’t been done in Provo by a collegiate team since 2006 and that’s beat the BYU Cougars.
“We have a big challenge ahead on Saturday,” CWU head coach Tony Pacheco said. ”The Cougars have an impressive combination of size and speed. We have had a great week of training and are excited for the semifinal. South Field is one of the great venues for rugby in America with one of the best home crowds.”
BYU earned the right to host this weekend’s semifinal after beating UCLA at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional, 69-8, last Saturday.
The Cougars sit at 10-2 on the 2013 season with a 10-0 record against collegiate competition.
Despite being the No. 1 overall seed in the Varsity Cup National Championship and being the defending National Collegiate Champions, BYU captain Ryan Roundy knows that the Cougars will have to be on their best if they hope to keep South Field’s collegiate unbeaten streak alive.
“This is a big game no doubt about it,” Roundy said. "We always expect to play well at home in front of our fans. And we’ll have to really be on top of all the little things if we want to make sure we do that and advance to the championship.”
Saturday’s semifinal postseason matchup is the Cougars’ ninth straight semifinal appearance. Despite the near decade of postseason performance, Saturday’s semifinal will be the first semifinal hosted on South Field.
“We’re very excited about Saturday,” BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said. “It doesn’t happen very often that you get to host a semifinal like this, but potentially play in the first ever National Championship game hosted on South Field.”
A win Saturday would put the Cougars playing in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship on May 4 at 1 p.m. MT on BYU’s South Field. As Tarawhiti notes, the Varsity Cup National Championship game will also be the first such game slated for the Cougars’ home field.
A possible BYU win will see them face the winner of the other Varsity Cup semifinal, which sees perennial national champion California hosting Navy in Berkeley, Calif., on April 27 at 2 p.m. PT.
The BYU vs. CWU semifinal match will be broadcast on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube channel and through Deseret Digital Media’s KSL.com and DesNews.com streaming platforms, giving local but also national and international fans the chance to see the Cougars and Wildcats Varsity Cup clash.
Tickets for Saturday’s match can be bought at the gate for $10 for general admission and $5 for students and youth 18 and under.
BYU rugby hosts National Championship semifinals
The defending National Champion BYU rugby team is set to play host to the Central Washington University Wildcats in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championship semifinals this Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m. MT on South Field.
The BYU Rugby program is one of the school's most winning sports teams with just 19 losses in more than 20 years. BYU Rugby won the 2009 and 2012 Collegiate National Championship & has promoted 40 All-Americans. For more go to byurugby.com.