One week after opening the 2014 Varsity Cup National Championships with a 70-15 win over Dartmouth, BYU rugby returns to South Field in Provo to host the Naval Academy in one of the tournament’s semifinal games. With a win over Navy on Saturday, the Cougars will advance to their ninth straight national title game and have the opportunity to win a third straight national championship.
“It was really important for our boys to get off to a good start in this year’s Varsity Cup,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “It took us a little while to settle down against Dartmouth, but once we did, we were able to really move the ball and play good rugby. Hopefully that good play will continue this weekend against Navy.”
BYU and Navy last met in the 2011 postseason quarterfinals in a game that saw the Cougars running over Navy, 64-12, on South Field. BYU center Jared Whippy and backup flyhalf Josh Webber were freshman on that team before leaving on two-year LDS missions, and they are the only returning players from that game.
“Navy is a very talented and well-coached team that we have no intentions of overlooking,” Smyth said. “We will need to be extra sharp in practice this week to make sure we are prepared to handle what they bring to the field.”
Navy beat Texas by a score of 64-10 last week in one of the Varsity Cup’s Eastern Super Regionals. BYU players share their coach’s sentiments when it comes to the Midshipmen and know Saturday’s game will be a hard-fought battle.
“Year in and year out, Navy always fields a really talented team,” BYU captain Kyle Sumsion said. “Obviously our goal is to return to the Varsity Cup Championship, but nobody on this team is overlooking the game we have to play on Saturday.”
Navy head coach Mike Flanagan is familiar with BYU rugby’s recent success and didn’t waste much time formulating his gameplan to combat the defending national champion Cougars.
“We want to get after them and make them play defense,” Flanagan said about BYU following last week’s win over Texas. “Not a lot of teams can make them play defense, so we have to force the issue. If we don’t, we are just going to be prey like everybody else.”
Saturday’s game begins at 1:00 p.m. MDT. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students. Those who aren’t able to 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.