As basketball winds down and the spring and summer sports begin to heat up, who would have thought the Cougars would have a top 5 team playing? If you know anything about men's rugby, you would have seen it early.
The BYU men's rugby team has been a top-notch, national contender for years. The team can point to their 2009 and 2012 National Championships as proof of this. The Cougars also played in the championship finals in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. If this isn't enough, they also won the Varsity Cup last year. Still not convinced? How about an 8-1 record in the Wasatch Cup which pits BYU against a very good University of Utah rugby program.
With all of these accolades, the most impressive stat might be that they could be considered the Cougars most successful sports programs when it comes to wins and losses. According to byurugby.com the Cougars have only lost 20 games in 21 years. They have produced 20 All-Americans, some of which have earned this honor multiple times, along with five others earning All-American honorable mentions.
The current roster for the third ranked Cougars consists of players from all over the country as well as players from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The Cougars combine this with 22 players from the state of Utah which has lead to a very strong all-around team. Currently the Cougars have All-American center Seki Kofe on the roster and will be looking for others to earn this honor in the near future.
With a current record of 7-1 (8-1 counting the unofficial friendly) the Cougars are ranked 3rd in the country. Their only loss came when they were ranked #1 and St. Mary's pulled the upset. BYU will have a chance to return the favor on Saturday as they will play again, this time at South Field.
Red Rock Invitational
The team started off the year with six straight games in two days at the Red Rock Invitational in Mesquite, Nevada and came out looking like the team that won the Varsity cup last year. In the season opener against Utah Valley University the Cougars rode a streak of six unanswered tries in the second half to beat the Wolverines 64-14. In the second game the Cougars notched tries from 13 different players and a hat trick for winger Chris Wernli. In the 106-0 rout, the Cougars scored on a total of 17 tries. The third game of the invitational led to the Cougars closest game as they faced a very athletic Weber State team and even trailed in the second half before freshman center Jacob McKay gave the Cougars the 27-24 win.
In the second day of the Invitational the Cougars faced both UVU and Weber State for a second time and swept them both. The second game between BYU and UVU ended with a 43-5 win as John Lamont led the team with two tries. In the second game the Cougars allowed Weber State to score the first three points but ended up scoring the last 55 as All-American Seki Kofi and Jordan Lowry each had two tries. In the final game the Cougars faced UNLV and recorded their second shut-out on the year with the 48-0 win. During the Invitational, BYU gave playing time to all players that traveled and ended up outscoring the opponents 345-46.
The next game came as a shock as the Cougars traveled to the sixth ranked Saint Mary's team and came out with the loss. The Cougars had the lead in the second half but the Gales scored the final 10 points of the game in order to win 30-24. With the Gaels coming to Provo on March 8th, the Cougars are looking to fight back and move back into the top ranking.
Montana State and Glendale Raptors
The Cougars have played two more games since the loss and have not been challenged in either. In an unofficial friendly against Montana State, the Cougars were able to shake off the loss and play their reserves in a blow-out that ended 157-0. With the momentum that was gained against Montana State, the Cougars were able to make their official home-opener another blow-out. With the Glendale Raptors in town the BYU team started scoring early and often as they held a 40-6 lead at halftime, scoring on seven tries in the first half. Once halftime ended, the success didn't stop as they scored eight more times before the game was over and came out with a 101-13 victory at South Field.
With the meat of their schedule coming up, the Cougars are looking to improve each game and strive to reach the Varsity Cup finals again and bring home another championship for the school. This Saturday is the first of five home games, including #1 St. Mary's and #7 Utah, that will give fans a chance to see a special team working on yet another special season.
BYU will stay at South Field for a home game against the top ranked Gaels of Saint Mary's. The game will start at 1 PM MST. With tickets still available, lets go out and show our support for the team and enjoy some exciting and entertaining rugby.