MORAGA, California — The BYU women's rugby team showed a lot of fight in its first championship appearance, but the Cougars couldn't upend the Penn State powerhouse.
The Nittany Lions grounded out a 15-5 victory for their fifth-straight national title.
"We really gave it your all," BYU women's rugby head coach Tom Waqa said. "We’re on a high. It's our first championship. We were not intimidated, (the players) represented their families and their school well. I thought we played our hearts out."
Penn State, which defeated Indiana 119-0 in the Big 10 championship, pinned the Cougars inside their own 22-meter line right from the start. The BYU forwards countered the talented Nittany Lions by disrupting their scrum and forced several turnovers.
"The scrum was huge for us," Waqa said. "It helps the team; the morale was high. It takes away some of their team’s offense, but we just couldn’t maintain the ball."
Penn State finally broke through midway through the first half on a cleaver kick and chase. Penn State doubled its advantage by driving a maul over the try line in the 34th minute. The Nittany Lions extended their lead to 15-0 in the 43rd minute with an impressive run down the right touchline.
BYU did have some impressive moments — including Nicole McCullough's deep drives into Cal territory and Jordan Gray's big hits, but couldn't find the goal area until the 79th minute when Rebekah Hebdon put the Cougars on the board with a try.