PROVO — The three-time National Champion BYU Rugby team released Friday its upcoming 2014 schedule, which includes two top men’s teams, the return of the Wasatch Cup and two inaugural challenge series with some of collegiate rugby’s top teams.
“One of our goals as a program here at BYU is to provide an environment where our student-athletes are challenged to develop into good rugby players,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. ”I firmly believe that this schedule offers that opportunity for development. Our regular season competition will be very demanding and will help us improve and mature as we lead up to the Varsity Cup National Championship.”
The Cougars’ season begins at the familiar Las Vegas Invitational on Jan. 22-24 in conjunction with America’s largest rugby tournament the USA Sevens HSBC IRB Sevens World Series stop at Sam Boyd Stadium. BYU’s foes are still to be determined as event organizers are finalizing involved teams.
BYU’s next challenge will be in Mesquite, Nev., as the team squares off with Colorado University and the Air Force Academy in the Red Rock Invitational on Feb. 7-8.
The Cougars will then travel to Moraga, Ca., on Feb. 15 for the first leg of the inaugural West Coast Cup which pits West Coast Conference foes BYU against the formidable St. Mary’s College.
The Gaels of St. Mary’s will return to Provo on March 8 for the second leg of the home-and-away series three weeks later. The cumulative score tally between the two games will declare the winner of the West Coast Cup.
BYU will face two men’s clubs teams from the newly formed Pacific Rugby Premiership with the Cougars’ home opener seeing the Glendale Raptors coming to South Field on March 1.
The Raptors home game will be the first meeting of the two teams. Glendale finished 2013 in the semifinals of the Elite Cup and returns the majority of its team in hopes of taking the inaugural Pacific Rugby Premiership title.
BYU will then host six straight home games on South Field including instate foes Utah Valley University and Utah State University on March 15 and 22, respectively.
Cal Poly San Louis Obispo will make its first visit to Provo since 2000 where the Cougars were victorious, 63-13. The Mustangs will visit South Field on March 26 for a mid-week evening kickoff.
March 29 will see men’s division champion San Francisco Golden Gate at Provo for the second edition of the Champions Challenge, which pits collegiate rugby’s champion against the men’s division title holder.
The schedule continues to build on the return of the Wasatch Cup with BYU hosting rival the University of Utah on South Field the evening of Friday, April 4.
A final regular season match April 12 has the Cougars traveling to the Phoenix, Ariz., area to take on the Sun Devils of Arizona State for the inaugural Rugby Bowl 2014. The bowl is organized to feature top collegiate rugby teams and to grow the recognition of the sport at large.
BYU last played ASU in 2012 in Tempe, Ariz., and won, 54-13.
Having won last year’s inaugural Varsity Cup National Championship at South Field, the Cougars will enter 2014’s version of the top collegiate postseason tournament as the No. 1 seed.
The 2014 Varsity Cup sees the addition of four teams to round out the bracket to 12 teams. Clemson University, the Universities of Texas and Utah along with Oklahoma University join the Varsity Cup Championship in hopes of gathering the National Title. The Varsity Cup post season kicks off April 12, with the National Championship to be played May 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
“We are very excited about this season and what it offers,” Smyth said. “There are some aspects that are familiar with the return of the Wasatch Cup and Champions Challenge, but we have a couple of firsts with the West Coast Cup and the Rugby Bowl 2014. All in all, the variety of teams and competition will test us on a number of different levels and hopefully get us ready for the ultimate goal of defending a national title.”
ABOUT THE BYU RUGBY PROGRAM: 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, 2012 & 2013 Collegiate National Championships and has promoted 40 players to All-America