BYU men's rugby
The Brigham Young University men's rugby team participates in USA Rugby's Varsity Cup Championship. Previously they participated in the College Premier Division, winning the 2009 and 2012 D1-A National Championship. More recently, BYU has won all three championships in the history of the Varsity Cup (2013, 2014, and 2015), defeating rival powerhouse Cal each time.
The Brigham Young University Rugby team was founded by John Seggar in 1962 while a student. In 1967, after graduating from BYU, Seggar became Head Coach of the newly formed program, a position he held on and off for 15 seasons.
In the 1980s, players David Smyth, Mark Ormsby, and Dean Ormsby helped build up the BYU Rugby team to compete in national playoffs. However they were never able to advance past the quarterfinal round.
In 1987, the National Collegiate Tournament changed the schedule of playing from Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday. This change in schedule and the team's affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kept them from competing for a national championship because they would not compete on Sundays. The change in the championship format also led Seggar to retire as the Head Coach.
Over the next few years, BYU Rugby continued to participate in regular season matches, but they participated in no post-season. David Smyth, Mark Ormsby, and Dean Ormsby acted as co-coaches, but they seemed unable to capture the zeal that Coach Seggar had inspired among his players. While under Smyth, Ormsby, and Ormsby the team never finished above .500. The three passed the program on to Vernon Heperi, the new BYU dean of students, who would later become the head coach.
After a temporary stay in the United Kingdom, Smyth returned to Utah in 1991 and once again assumed coaching responsibilities at BYU. Smyth left for the second time in 2002.
In 2004, USA Rugby returned post-season tournament play to a Friday-Saturday format, and BYU Rugby began playing again in the national tournament.
Under Head Coach Jared Akenhead — who took over from Smyth as head coach in 2002 — the BYU Rugby team made it to the national collegiate playoffs. Several of his players received All-American awards and National Team selection honors.
In 2005, Akenhead left the BYU Rugby program and Smyth once again assumed head coaching responsibilities, with Kimball Kjar, Wayne Tarawhiti, Brian Westenskow, Justen Nadauld, and Jeff Hullinger as assistant coaches.
In his 20+ seasons as head coach at BYU, Smyth has coached several USA National Rugby Team Members, Collegiate All-Americans, and Pacific Coast All-Stars. He has also led the Cougars to five collegiate championships: 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Each year BYU competes in the Wasatch Cup, an annual rivalry match against the University of Utah. Since 2007 the symbol of victory has been a rather large loving-cup style trophy with the match history inscribed in its base.
As of 2014 BYU participates in the West Coast Cup. The series features a home-and-home series between BYU and Saint Mary's. The match title comes from the fact that both teams compete in the West Coast Conference in most NCAA sanctioned sports.
Other matches that BYU participates in annually include the Champions Challenge, featuring BYU against a previous season semi-pro championship team, and the Rugby Bowl.
While not a regular rival on the schedule, BYU and Cal are regarded currently as being the top rugby rivalry in the nation. Since 2006 the Cougars and Bears have met in every season, except 2012, in the collegiate postseason tournament. Cal didn't participate in any post-season collegiate rugby in 2012. Before 2006 the schools met in 1981, 1983, 1984, and 2001. 2015 marked the ninth time BYU and Cal have met for the national championship.
BYU has had several successful seasons, finishing as the top or one of the top teams in the country in post-season tournaments and in national rankings.
Division 1-A Rugby
The following table shows the Division 1-A national championships where BYU reached at least the semifinals. In addition to the years listed below, the Cougars made the quarterfinals in 1999 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2004.
|YEAR||LOCATION||CHAMPION||SCORE||RUNNER-UP||3rd PLACE||4th PLACE|
|2005||Stanford, CA||California||44-7||Utah||BYU / Navy|
|2006||Stanford, CA||California||29-26||BYU||Utah / Penn State|
|2007||Stanford, CA||California||37-7||BYU||Navy / Penn State|
|2008||Stanford, CA||California||59-7||BYU||Saint Mary's / Colorado|
|2009||Stanford, CA||BYU||25-22||California||Army / San Diego State|
|2010||Stanford, CA||California||19-7||BYU||Arkansas State / Army|
|2011||Sandy, UT||California||21-14||BYU||Utah / Arkansas State|
|2012||Sandy, UT||BYU||49-42||Arkansas State||Life / Saint Mary's|
The following table is a list of each of the Varsity Cups in which BYU has reached at least the semifinals.
|YEAR||LOCATION||CHAMPION||SCORE||RUNNER-UP||3rd PLACE||4th PLACE|
|2013||Provo, UT||BYU||27–24||California||Central Washington / Navy|
|2014||Sandy, UT||BYU||43–33||California||Central Washington / Navy|
|2015||Sandy, UT||BYU||30–27||California||Central Washington / Navy|
- Smyth, David - AA Head Coach (2006 - Pres.)
- Kjar, Kimball - Backs Coach (2010)
- Allred, TJ - 2010 (HM), 2012
- Blaser, John - 2004
- Clark, Craig - 2006, 2007
- Davies, Shaun - 2009, 2010, 2012
- Folau, Byron - 2009, 2010 (HM)
- Forrester, Ray - 2011,2012, 2013 (HM)
- Havea, Morris - 2007
- Hullinger, Jeff - 2006
- Kjar, Kimball - 2001, 2002, 2003
- Kjar, Taylor - 2006, 2007
- Kofe, Hoseki - 2012, 2013
- Lasike, Paul - 2009, 2012, 2013
- Leaaetoa, Hynie - 2012
- Linehan, Jonny - 2013 (HM)
- Lubbe, Dylan - 2009, 2010, 2012 (HM)
- Malani, Apenisa - 2009
- Nadauld, Taylor - 2001
- Ngakuru, Duran - 2007
- Poelman, Michael - 2005
- Qaqa, Vito - 2009
- Roundy, Ryan - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- Sika, Salesi - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Smith, Derek - 2006, 2007
- St. Pierre, Steve - 2007. 2008, 2009
- Stearns, Ned - 2002
- Sua, Mikey - 2009,2010,2011 2012
- Sua, Manti - 2009
- Sumsion, Kyle 2009 (HM), 2012 (HM), 2013
- Taumoepeau, Ikani - 2006
- Tuilevuka, Alipate - 2006
- Vimahi, Viliami - 2010 (HM)
HM = Honorable Mention
Pacific Coast All-Stars
- Michael Poelman- 2005
- Derek Smith- 2006, 2007
- Craig Clark- 2006, 2007
- Taylor Kjar- 2006
- Steve St. Pierre - 2007, 2008, 2009
- Haka performed by non-New Zealand sports teams § Brigham Young University
- Mike Leach - prominent American football coach who played rugby at BYU from 1979 to 1983
- Rugby Mag, BYU Team Honored at Football Game, Sep. 8, 2012, http://www.rugbymag.com/college-premier-league-/5713-byu-team-honored-at-football-game.html
- Goff, Alex (May 2, 2009). "BYU beats Cal". eRugbyNews. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
- Call, Jeff (May 19, 2012). "BYU rugby wins national championship with 49-42 victory over Arkansas State". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Lloyd, Jared (May 6, 2013). "BYU beats Cal". Provo Daily Herald (Provo, UT). Retrieved May 6, 2013.
- Call, Jeff (May 3, 2014). "Cougars capture third straight title with 43-33 win over Cal in Varsity Cup national championship". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- "BYU, Cal again face off for national crown Saturday". Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- "Final 2012 D1-A College Rankings", Rugby Today, May 201, 2012.
- "All Divisions College Top 25 May 22, 2013, presented by Selective Service", Rugby Today. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "Men's DI College Top 25, May 15, 2014", Rugby Today. Retrieved October 9, 2014.