Just three days after defeating Cal Poly on a cold, wet Wednesday night, BYU rugby welcomes San Francisco Golden Gate to South Field for the Champions Challenge. The reigning collegiate champion Cougars and the defending men’s division champion San Francisco Golden Gate square off Saturday afternoon in Provo.
“San Francisco Golden Gate is a very good team and presents a lot of challenges for our boys,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “We’re going to go hard in practice these next couple of days and make sure we’re ready for what they’ll throw at us on Saturday.”
BYU has only one loss on the season and is currently on a six-game win streak. However, the Cougars understand Saturday’s game against men’s division champion San Francisco Golden Gate is one of the toughest on this year’s schedule.
“The boys get excited to play men’s clubs like San Francisco Golden Gate because they challenge us physically and a lot of their players have experience above the college level,” BYU captain Johnny Linehan said. “We just need to make sure we have a good few days of practice and play BYU rugby on Saturday.”
The Cougars will be facing San Francisco Golden Gate without captain Kyle Sumsion, who is currently with the USA National Team in Atlanta, Ga., preparing for the second leg of the home-and-away Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier series between the USA and Uruguay. Sumsion came off the bench in the first leg of the qualifiers in Montevideo, Uruguay, on March 22 and saw 17 minutes of action.
Following Saturday’s Champions Challenge, the Cougars welcome Utah to South Field on April 4 for the coveted Wasatch Cup. BYU has won eight of its last nine games against Utah, with Utah’s sole victory coming back in 2005. Utah is currently ranked No. 9 nationally by RugbyMag.com and should present a good challenge for the Cougars.
“Utah will be playing their best just like they do against any BYU team,” Linehan said. “We will do everything in practice to make sure we are ready for them and we are really looking forward to a good game.”
BYU then heads to Phoenix on April 12 to face Arizona State in the inaugural Rugby Bowl 2014 before beginning its 2014 national championship campaign in the Varsity Cup. The Cougars are looking to reach their third straight national championship game, which will be held May 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network. For full event details, including match dates and venue details along with ticket information visit the Varsity Cup website.
Saturday’s game against San Francisco Golden Gate begins at 1:00 p.m. MDT. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students. Those who can't attend the game can watch live via BYU Rugby’s YouTube channel or follow the game on Twitter.
Kelby Jones is a student at BYU studying public relations and currently writes for BYU Rugby.