Cougars Prep for Fourth Straight Semifinal Appearance
29 Apr 2008
Provo, UT—Making its fourth straight appearance in the semifinals of the USA Rugby Collegiate Championships the BYU Cougars are poised for what on paper appears to be a monumental task.
The fourth straight appearance by BYU in the semifinals of collegiate rugby's top competition is no small feat. Only Cal, Air Force, Penn State, Army and Navy have achieved four straight appearances, with Cal the only team achieving five or more semifinal berths in a row.
BYU (13-3) is currently ranked #2 in the nation behind perennial powerhouse Cal, who features in the semifinals as well.
The Cougars have had a challenging season with wins over high profile teams such as Texas A&M, Cal Poly SLO, Air Force and Utah on two separate occasions, one of which was a third straight Wasatch Cup victory in March.
Two of the three Cougar losses have come against men’s teams with a combined points differential of just 8 points to Super League side Santa Monica and Division 1 Park City Haggis. But the lone loss to a collegiate side on the Cougars’ season ironically was to BYU’s next opponent, the University of Colorado Buffaloes.
Back in February the Buffaloes were able to hold off a second half come back from the Cougars in Boulder and hold on to the victory 28-22. CU flyhalf Maximo DeAchaval led the Buffaloes and put the game out of reach in the 77th minute with a drop goal.
Currently the Buffs are 13-2 and ranked 3rd behind the Cougars by AmericanRugbyNews.com.
Most recently CU was able to hold off the University of Utah two weekends ago in the round of 16 playoffs 31-30 as the Utes missed an injury time penalty to seal the win for the Buffs. And they followed up the win with some quarterfinal heroics to come back and beat Penn State in a high scoring double overtime win 58-55.
CU is led by All-American DeAchaval who is supported by fellow All-American center Dan Murphy and the hard running No. 8 Tommy Pasque. The trio will look to repeat their win against the Cougars in the semifinals this Friday at 5pm.
“We are looking forward to playing Colorado again,” BYU head coach David Smyth said, “There isn’t much that’s needed to be said to the guys to get them motivated for this one.”
The extra motivation to play CU in the semifinals alone isn't going to be enough says Smyth however.
“They’re [CU] a very hard working bunch,” said Smyth who also coached the All-American team for the last two years which included CU’s DeAchaval and Murphy, “They have a will to win no matter the situation and never back down. It’s going to be a great game.”
Should Smyth and his team win against the Buffs on Friday they will advance to face the winner between the rugby juggernaut and 23-time national champion Cal Berkeley Bears or the Gaels from St. Mary’s. Both teams hail from the Northern California rugby region and met earlier this season with Cal winning big 78-22.
The Bears are gunning for a 5th straight championship and currently hold a 22-1 record. Cal steam rolled past Tennessee in superhuman fashion by the score of 102-3 in the Round of 16 using their 2nd XV and easily bested a strong Cal Poly SLO team 74-6 in the quarterfinals.
No one is writing off a dynamic St. Mary’s however team who is led by All-American center Kevin Swyrin. They play an exciting brand of rugby and can score points against any team. This is the Gaels first appearance in the semifinals.
Both semifinals are slated for Friday, May 2nd at Steuber Rugby Stadium with the BYU vs. CU rematch at 5pm, while the Bears will look to avoid any upset at 3pm. Winners of the two semifinals will play the next day at 5pm for National Championship.
Live internet video coverage for all USA Rugby Collegiate Championships matches on May 2nd and 3rd will be available at www.usarugby.org.