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XV Questions With David Smyth

Tuesday Aug 4, 2009 in Awards and Profiles Profiles

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(Ed Hagerty photo)

15 Questions with David Smyth

Few coaches can lay claim to what David Smyth accomplished this past season, as he led BYU to a national DI college championship. In the last 19 seasons, only three coaches can say that (Smyth, Rob Holder, and the other 17 times, Jack Clark).

Smyth did it by in part emulating the Cal plan – rejecting fall play in favor of a strength and conditioning program, and by testing his players with the toughest opposition he could find. BYU played 18 games in 2009, winning all of them.

He has helped elevate BYU to a virtual varsity status – with their own on-campus stadium and TV coverage on BYUTV. And with the high level of talent coming out of U19 programs in Utah, there’s little worry that BYU rugby will fall off any time soon.

David Smyth at a Glance
Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland
Birthdate: April 27, 1962 (47)
Residence: Pleasant Grove, Utah
Occupation: Rugby Coach
Marital Status: Married to Verla
Children: Andrea 19, Jillian 16, Gavin 11

Brigham Young University
Years coaching: 19 years (all at BYU)
Coaching certificates: USA Rugby Level Three
Select sides coached: Utah Collegiate All Stars, Pacific Coast Collegiate Grizzlies, Collegiate All Americans
Most successful season: 2009, won National Collegiate Championship

Years playing rugby: 16
Position: Scrumhalf
Clubs: City of Derry & BYU
Highest level of play: Inland Pacific rep team
Best memory in rugby: Too many to list
Biggest influence on you as a player: Family. Ray Murphy, Russell Barr


XV questions (and answers) with David Smyth:
1. What got you started in coaching? I wanted to stay involved in the game at a competitive level

2. What is your coaching philosophy: Make rugby an enjoyable experience for the players by challenging them to excel on the field. Play an open expansive game where everyone is involved.  Total rugby!

3. Best aspect of coaching:
Working with the players and coaches.

4. Biggest influence on coaching career:
Peter Nordstrom

5. What keeps you in coaching?
The relationships with the players and fellow coaches.  The challenge of trying to put the best team on the field and all that comes with that.  The adrenaline that comes from competing!  Finally, my wife doesn’t want me spending too much time at home!

6. Most respected coach:  Everyone I’ve had the privilege to work with.

7. Goals in rugby: To help grow the game in the USA.  Help BYU to stay competitive by building a rugby program not just a team. To become a better coach by improving my skills as a teacher of the game. 

8. How do you keep current with your coaching
? I attend clinics, study games and spend a lot of time with great coaches/teachers of the game.

9. Best coaching resource:
Other coaches

10. Post-match traditions:
Breath in, breath out!

11. Areas in which American rugby needs work: Synergy

12. Areas in which American rugby has improved: Better coaches, better players.

13. Observations on American rugby: I continue to be disappointed that USA Rugby does not appropriate sufficient support/funds for the college game. Why is it that every year our Collegiate All Americans fail to have the proper financial backing? College rugby, on many levels, is an area of huge opportunity for American rugby; it needs to be treated as such.  

14. Your favorites …
Leisure interests:
Travel, spending time with family, meeting new people from different parts of the world.
Books: Any coach/athlete biography/autobiography.
Character in literature: Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes)
Films: Braveheart, The Bucket List, The Quiet Man.
Character in film: William Wallace
TV programs: ER
Musical acts: The Beatles, ELO, U2

15. The best … 
Referee: Josh Tamiefuna
Administrator: John Seggar
Playing field: South Field (BYU), Witter Field (Cal), Steuber Stadium (Stanford).
Coach: Ray Murphy
Manager: Gabriel “Argie” Almeida


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