BYU Seeks Early Challenges
BYU Seeks Early Challenges
It may be cold in Provo but rugby is on the minds of those at BYU as the two-time Varsity Cup-winning Cougars look to the 2015 season.
As usual, playing at home will have to wait until late in the season, with Brigham Young’s first right games on the road. Head Coach David Smyth has ramped up the difficulty in those early games, with Arizona State, Utah, and Cal Poly being the first three opponents out of the chute - all of those games will be played at Snow Canyon HS in St. George, Utah.
“It’s not a bad thing to play a challenging game early,” said Smyth “To ge tbetter you have to play the best teams. Our whole plan is to develop these young men and we do that by having them play under pressure.”
BYU finished January with the Red Rock Invitational, which includes the Cal Poly game but also games for other members of the squad - Dixie State and UNLV.
Then it’s visits to Utah State, Air Force, and St. Mary’s. The Zoomies and the Gaels return the favor and play in Provo in March, and then it’s the Wasatch Cup clash with Utah in Salt Lake City.
BYU finishes up their pre-Varsity Cup buildup with games against Utah Valley State and Utah State.
The Varsity Cup schedule hasn’t been finalized, but likely will provide BYU a bye in the first round. So the rest of the season looks to be the Varsity Cup quarterfinals on April 11, semis on April 18, and the final at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah May 2.
BYU has made the championship game of their division (DI, then DIA, then Varsity Cup) every year since 2006, so expecting them to be in Rio Tinto this year isn’t a stretch, especially if you consider that they haven’t lost too many players from last year’s winning team.
“We’ve got a lot of new boys, as well,” said Smyth. “And we’ve got most of the team from last year back. But those returning players can’t take anything for granted. Everything is performance based.”
Of note among the new boys, former High School All American captain Calvin Whiting will return from LDS mission in the winter.
The halfback combination of Luke Mocke and Jonny Linehan will be back for their third year together. Kyle Sumsion, already capped at the senior level by the USA, should be fully back for his final semester. Paul Lasike, who gained over 600 yards from scrimmage as a running back for BYU’s football team this season, and scored nine touchdowns, as back for his final run at center for the rugby team. He should be more available this season than last, and that’s a scary piece of news for opponents.
(Note, it doesn’t appear that Lasike was much involved in the brawl between the BYU and Memphis football teams at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl Monday, Dec 22.)
BYU is obviously a national power and could well be the best team in the country. What they have done with their schedule is make an effort to prove it. While they don’t have Life University (Goff Rugby Report’s current #1) on their docket, they do have St. Mary’s, and Utah, and could well face the likes of Arkansas State and Cal in the Varsity Cup.