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Reigning Varsity Cup champion, BYU, defeated Utah, 50-22, in St. George, Utah Saturday. Coming into the game, Utah had several weeks of rugby under its belt. The Utes lost convincingly to St. Mary’s two weeks ago, but a match against one of the top programs in the country seemed to put Utah in the right direction. Last weekend, the Utes swept the Pac North tournament, yielding only five points in four shortened games.
“They were fit and organized,” Oregon State coach Anthony Lally said of Utah. “Their defense was excellent. I thought their line speed was great, and they really took time and space away from everybody they played.”
BYU, however, like St. Mary’s, is a different class of opponent and started this season off in traditional fashion. Coming off a 72-8 trashing of Arizona State, the Cougars started this game off similarly. Junior scrumhalf Luke Mocke and freshman Calving Whiting dotted down in the first 12 minutes, and with two successful conversions from Johnny Linehan, it was 14-0.
Utah attempted to slow down the Cougar attack through a physical, pack-driven game. The Utes had some success in retaining ball possession, but struggled to stop a potent BYU offense. Utah got on the board next to cut the lead to 14-5, but BYU scored two more tries to take a 26-5 lead into the break.
Utah opened the scoring in the second half to cut the lead to 26-10, but BYU responded with three consecutive tries, the third of which was earned by captain and capped Eagle, Kyle Sumsion.
Utah added the next two tries making it 45-22, but a second score from Whiting capped off a 50-22 victory for the Cougars. Both Whiting and Mocke finished with multiple scores on the afternoon.
The first of a possible three meetings, both sides agreed prior to the game to have open substitutions. In the win, BYU used 30 players, a testament to the strength of its program.
“Today’s win showed the depth we have at different positions,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the six different players who scored tries. “Our forwards did a great job holding their ground creating more chances for us to make plays.”
Despite the victory, Smyth praised Utah for a strong effort today and looks forward to the next matchup with the Utes.
“Hats off to Utah for coming ready to play,” Smyth said. “We look forward to playing them this season for the Wasatch Cup.”
BYU will travel to the University of Utah on March 21 to compete for said traveling trophy. The teams could theoretically meet for a third time, if both sides advance far in the Varsity Cup.