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An Amazing Night for BYU, College Rugby

Saturday May 2, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division I Colleges

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May 2, 2009 – Well it finally happened, Cal lost in the final.

BYU scored three tries and held the vaunted Bears to a single touchdown. They scored a try down two men. They weathered four yellow cards. All with a vocal, and largely pro-Cal, crowd of 3,400 breathing down their necks. They kept the speedy Dustin Muhn and the brilliant and bandaged Colin Hawley pretty much in check. Blaine Scully was bottled up. It was an impressive performance under difficult circumstances.

BYU was sin-binned four times. Sam Thorley's tackle of Colin Hawley in the air was clearly one. Vili Vimahi's for a high tackle was harsh - he seemed to just lay in a big hit around the shoulders. Mike Su'a's for not wrapping was also harsh, since he appeared simply to be counter-rucking, not tackling, while Isikeli Volavola's for repeated infringements was clear. But in the end, BYU survived them all.

Photos from Numina Photo

“This has been a long time coming and the guys worked enormously hard for it,” said BYU head coach David Smyth. “We worked on our strength and conditioning and up to last night we didn’t get many serious injuries. We have been on a real roller coaster. We played so many tough games – Dartmouth, Arkansas State, who are for real, and then San Diego State. Having to come from behind, the players just did the work and I’m proud of them.”

“I tip my hat to BYU they are a very good team and they played very hard and very well,” said Cal coach Jack Clark. “I guess we left some points on the field and I would think they felt the same way. But I’m proud of our guys for how they battled and how hard they played until the end. But we played a good team.”

Pandemonium when BYU won, but the Cal players were quick to shake their opponents’ hands, form a tunnel for their victors, and congratulate them. Clark and Cal assistant Tom Billups were sincere in their congratulations.

“It’s not like we looked at BYU and thought about playing them in the national championship – we just don’t approach things that way. But you do look at them on the other side of the bracket and know there’s a good team out there. But you look at our boys after the game and they had their heads up and congratulated BYU on a game well played, and I think the way they carried themselves, we did pretty good.”

“Last year we were annihilated in the final,” said Smyth. “So we had some things to change and I was not sure how the boys would respond. But they responded really well.”

They sure did.

BYU wins the national college title. Cal loses their first domestic college game since 2004. Such an event has to be considered good for the game simply because there's a new champion in town. So, too, was the fact the game will be on ESPNU, that 6,200  fans came to see the games over the weekend at Stanford, and that despite all the complaints to the contrary, no Californian team won Saturday. It seems traveling all the way to Stanford can agree with you.

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com



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