Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BYU Rugby into the Big Four

After a tough weekend in Atlanta, the BYU Rugby team has qualified for a 5th straight appearance in the 'Big Four' of the USA Rugby National Guard College Playoffs. While Cal and BYU (in recent years) have become mainstays of the Big Four, this year's match-ups feature two teams that haven't been in the top four since 2003 (Army) and 1987 (San Diego State).

BYU will face off against San Diego State on Friday at 5 pm, and the winner thereof will play the following day at 7 pm against the winner of the Cal vs. Army match. For opinions on the long-awaited Big Four tests, as well as recaps of BYU's most recent, barn-burner match against Arkansas State, check the following links:

"The Time Has Come: Collegiate Big 4 Preview"
"Big Four Preview"
"Cougars Move On to Big Four, Beat Strong ASU team"
"San Diego State going to Big Four"
"Army clinches spot in Big Four"
"Cal going back to Big Four"

As there is no word yet on whether or not streaming video coverage of the Big Four matches will be made available online, the only other option (however unsatisfactory and frustrating) is to check the USA Rugby website for the latest updates on the Mobile Scoreboard (viewed by scrolling down to the bottom of the main page).

And as for my two cents on the 2009 Collegiate Rugby Big Four, I really can't say too much... Suffice it to say that many of the results of the matches in the rounds of 16 & 8 were complete shockers, and so this time, I will not be so quick to make any bold assumptions...

Okay, I'll still make some assumptions here, but nothing too over-the-top. But first, a quick reminder that BYU has met San Diego State before...
last year's round of 8 resulted in BYU beating San Diego State, 37-14, in a somewhat lackluster performance for both sides. And so it is that BYU again faces San Diego State, similar to this year's Super 16 rematch with Dartmouth... only this time both teams meet in the Big Four!

Although BYU is a much improved team this year, the same holds true for San Diego State on all accounts. If anything, I think (if the first two rounds carry any implications) that we could be in for another highly competitive match with an unbelievably low score. Of course, I also recall last year's Big Four match-up against Colorado, in which BYU basically crippled what was supposed to be a fierce and capable competitor to the tune of a 42 to13 difference. So... when all is said and done, my optimistic spirit and unbridled, BYU Rugby fanhood win out as I'm betting that BYU will come out on top with a final score not much different than that of last year's round of 8.

And as for Cal, what's there to say? Honestly... what should I even bother saying about the dynasty, the regime that boasts ownership of 24 of the last 29 National Titles? ... I suppose all I can say is that I hope this year is different. I hope BYU has a 4th straight rematch against Cal. I hope Our boys fight a lot harder and smarter than they did last year (which shouldn't be hard to do). I hope the BYU Rugby team digs deep to expose a new level of grit and determination, to reveal a true team with hearts united in a common, unwavering ambition to succeed. And success is within reach... it's just a matter of expelling cheap justifications in the pursuit of something bigger than oneself.

Though I can't begin to guess how the final match will pan out, I can offer a few minimum expectations that I and many BYU Rugby fans hold deep inside... Simply put, we all have great expectations of the BYU Rugby team... whoever the opposition may be. And this year (
to be blatantly honest) we expect the BYU Rugby team to make it back to the final game; anything less than that would be a great disappointment. Moreover, we expect a much more solid display of rugby, BYU rugby, to grace the stage of the National Title match. Last year's final was tough to swallow... and so this year, as the bar has been raised for all, we expect more of Our boys...

And so it is in that spirit that I say to them, "Work hard, stay focused, and don't compromise yourself nor the team! You're in the spotlight once again, and we are counting on you to dig deep and represent the great BYU Rugby legacy which so many have fought long to build. Make us proud, men... that BYU emerge victorious in the end!" BYU Rugby Forever!


  1. Let's go BYU. Let's take care of business and have the fun after the season is over. I found it interesting last year while talking to the Cal players parents that they only got to see their sons for a brief few minutes after their big four win against St. Mary's. Then it was off with the coaches to review and off to bed at 9 PM. No disrespect to our Cougars but it seemed like they were on vacation. Hanging out in the pool staying up late, etc. The coaches can only preach what to do but we need veterans to be leaders among the players. I'd trade any vacation to see our boys bring home the gold medals. I've seen 3 years worth of tears falling on silvers.

  2. Here's a story that I would love for the coaches to tell the players as it sums up the previous comment:

    The best example of a team learning about what it takes to win 4 rounds in the playoffs were the 1982-83 Edmonton Oilers. With a plethora of young superstars such as Messier, Lowe, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri and oh yes # 99 himself, Wayne Gretzky, the Oilers were pegged to be the team that could finally dethrone the reigning 3 time champion Islanders.

    What the Oilers learned from that series was that grit and determination was what was needed to win the coveted Stanley Cup. After a gritty game four that saw the Islanders make it 3-1 in the Finals that year, some of the Oilers had passed by the Islander dressing room after the game and looked at these beaten up, tired old men - the likes of Trottier, Gillies, Nystrom and Bossy - icing down sore knees and shoulders. What they took from that was that these guys played to the maximum of their capacity and were able to simply overwhelm the young Edmontonians for 60 minutes of gruelling hockey. (I would add that Gretzky later said that he and his teamates felt as though they could have played a whole period more. They Islanders left it all on the ice.)

    When the puck dropped for Game 5, the Oilers were already beat. New York made the best of their chances and stuck to a game plan that ensured they would not make mistakes for Edmonton to capitalize on. The Islanders went on to win Cup # 4 and at the same time hand over the torch to Edmonton.

    From that game Edmonton's young kids got a little older, a lot wiser and New York eventually got too old to withstand the pains of 4 rounds of hockey. That year, 1984, Edmonton won its first of 5 Stanley Cup titles.

    (The burning question is has BYU learned the lesson or are we content to be the perennial runner-up)

  3. Yes, I suppose that's the real question... How bad do Our boys want it? How serious and committed are they to winning?

    I'd wager that even I, a sidelined fan, want a National Title more than some of the players... maybe they don't fully realize how much this means, not just now but for the rest of their lives.

  4. Just a little morsel I found today:

    "Trial by fire on the fire trail"


    And just a reminder of a thought that I have tried to convey in several of my previous posts: Cal isn't a team loaded with talent or creativity!!!

    Even Cal's standout, Kegan Engelbrecht, is quoted (in the article above) as saying, "By no means are we the best rugby players in the country... Talent can get you only so far. What absolutely sets us apart is our dedication. You'd be hard-pressed to find it in other teams.""

    Cal isn't some dynamic, rugby-instinctive team... they are simply a highly dedicated, disciplined, and well-trained team...

    Time for BYU to raise the bar... (after all, we actually DO have talent! Why not create an unbeatable TEAM???)

  5. Love your website and comments.As an SDSU rugger from the 87 team and living in New York I've been looking for any info on coverage of the Final Four. Good luck to your team and if you beat SDSU carry on and take it to Cal

  6. A belated thanks, Jerry. An though we beat SDSU, I am happy to say that we did take it to those Bears!!!


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