BYU rugby: Cougars host Cal for national championship on Saturday
Provo, Utah —The Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship pitting defending national champion BYU against perennial champion Cal, takes place Saturday, May 4 at 1 p.m. at BYU’s South Field Stadium.
Saturday’s clash of national rugby powerhouses marks the seventh time in the last eight years that the two teams will meet. This will be BYU’s eighth straight championship game appearance after winning the title last year 49-42 over Arkansas State at Rio Tinto Stadium in front of 10,000 fans.
California owns the recent post-season series between the two teams dating back to 2006 with a 6-1 record. The last meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium in front of over 12,000 fans went in favor of the Golden Bears in 2011 by the score 21-14.
The Cougars beat the Bears in 2009, 25-22, at Stanford’s Steuber Rugby Stadium when BYU came from behind in dramatic fashion after an early 12-0 deficit.
BYU captain Ryan Roundy said he knows this Saturday’s clash will be one he and his teammates won’t soon forget.
“This is one of those days you really look forward to,” Roundy said. “To have Cal on your home pitch here at South Field and to be playing for a national championship on top of that. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
California comes into Saturday’s title tilt on a tear having beat a strong Navy side 74-6 last Saturday in the Varsity Cup semifinals in Berkeley after beating Notre Dame 77-0 the week before in the quarterfinals.
The Golden Bears won the Pacific Athletic Conference title outright with a 5-0 record and currently hold a 21-0 overall record on the 2013 season.
With 26 national championship trophies residing in Berkeley, BYU head coach David Smyth said it will take more than home field advantage to beat Cal and take home his own program’s third title.
“Cal is Cal,” Smyth said. “Great players focus on one thing and that’s beating you. No matter when or where you play them you can expect a strong and well-disciplined team that goes for all 80 minutes. They require your maximum focus and effort as a team if you’re to stand a chance at beating them.”
The Cougars meanwhile have recorded two solid victories in postseason play over UCLA (69-8) two weeks ago and Central Washington (53-20) in the Varsity Cup semifinals, and hold an 11-2 overall record with the two losses coming to men’s Elite Cup teams Old Puget Sound and New York Athletic Club.
“We might not have won those games [against NYAC and OPSB],” Smyth said. “But they did what they were supposed to do and that was to help make us a better team.”
Despite the two losses to top men’s sides, BYU holds an undefeated record on South Field to collegiate opponents and hasn’t lost to a collegiate team in Provo since 2006.
“We love playing at South Field,” senior prop Ray Forrester said. “We have some of the best fans in the country. They expect to see wins at South Field and we hope to live up to that expectation on Saturday.”
Saturday’s championship game will be the first national title game played on South Field and will also be Cal’s first trip to Provo in nearly three decades. The Bears won 44-6 in Provo in 1983.
Tickets can be purchased in advance through BYU Tickets. Fans are advised to purchase tickets early, as seating will be limited.
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.
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