Monday, July 6, 2009

The 2009 Anchor Awards

Perhaps more so than any other sport, rugby is all about playing for the team, not for yourself. Whereas in other sports it may seem almost belittling to merely be called a "supporting player," in rugby there are few greater compliments...

Player support is absolutely essential in rugby; without it, true team success is impossible. Being a solid, supporting player doesn't often bring great amounts of recognition, but it does bring great personal satisfaction and increased potential for team success.

Over the course of the BYU Rugby team's amazing run this past season, numerous players contributed to such collective success, the culmination of which yielded a National Title. Time and time again, we fans heard announced the names of standout players, such as Steve St. Pierre, Shaun Davies, Dylan Lubbe, Paul Lasike, Vito Qaqa, and freshman speedster Jordan Lowry...

Nevertheless, in an effort to recognize and spotlight those true supporting players that often go unnamed, BYU Rugby Forever introduces the first-ever "Anchor Awards."

Just as an anchor represents steadfastness and stability in the face of opposition, the BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Awards are given to those BYU players who are a model of consistency offensively, defensively, and with respect to their specific position.

While myriad players on the 2009 BYU Rugby squad showed tremendous grit and rose to the challenge throughout the season, two players stood out in my mind as being most worthy of a 2009 BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Award: Flanker Apenisa Malani and Lock Kyle Sumsion. (Photos courtesy of Paul Meyers)

BYU Flanker Apenisa Malani and Lock Kyle Sumsion in action against Arkansas StateBYU Rugby Flanker Apenisa Malani in action against DartmouthBYU Rugby Lock Kyle Sumsion breaks through for a try against Cal

Now before anyone out there jumps up and says, "Hey, but Apenisa was just named an All-American, and Kyle was named an Honorable Mention! How is that going unnoticed???", allow me to explain...

Let's just say that I've had the idea for the Anchor Awards rolling around in the back of my head since season's end... and just because the Collegiate All-American selectors and coaches also happened to observe the consistency of these two players doesn't mean that I can't follow through with my own, premeditated means of recognition. (So just humor me a little, and we can all still be friends...)

That being said, the first BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Award goes to junior Apenisa Malani in acknowledgment of his unquestionable consistency all across the board. Without fail, Apenisa's offensive efforts set up eventual trys and instigated momentum-building drives that kept the Cougars focused on the end goal.

And true to the nature of his flanker position, Apenisa set a high standard of defense with solid, immobilizing tackles that more often than not left the opposition on their backs! The epitome of collegiate rugby energy and dependability, Apenisa Malani receives my congratulations for being a solid example of a true supporting player to the very end.

BYU Rugby Flanker Apenisa Malani wraps up a SDSU playerOur other Anchor Award winner, freshman Kyle Sumsion, truly made a statement this year with his solid, even surprisingly potent, offensive and defensive play. Who says that freshmen are necessarily more timid, weak, or lacking in skill??? Kyle definitively shattered all such notions with powerful runs and fluid line-outs on offense as well as unbending defensive efforts at the breakdown. Like no other BYU freshman forward before him, 'fearless' was his name...

Honestly, I doubt many spectators ever knew that he hadn't been playing with the team for years prior to this season! My congratulations to Kyle Sumsion for breaking the mold of freshman uncertainty to play an integral, supporting role from the very start.

BYU Rugby Lock Kyle Sumsion takes a solid throw-in over CalCongratulations and thanks to both Apenisa and Kyle on an amazing 2009 season!


  1. Congrats on the awards guys, well deserved. Thank you BYUrugbyforever for recognizing these 2 great players and teamates

  2. Great idea, great choices. Kyle received 2 MVP awards at under 19 all-star gatherings after the season, one in California and the other in Colorado. Dramatically undersized for a lock, Kyle always played above his size and weight. Though there were other deserving players, it was impossible to keep Kyle off the pitch, due to his aggressiveness and incredible work rate. We already had two great flankers in Apenisa and Nate Maughan (my votes, along with Dillon Lubbe for most improved players), so Kyle had to play lock. It doesn't look as if Kyle will play next year, since he's decided to serve a mission (good on ya', Kyle).

    Apenisa, of course, was recently married and thus couldn't leave the country to participate in the the All-american tour. He brings the offensive moves of a back to the strength and power of a flanker. I hope to see him in a cougar uniform for two more years. And you can't find a finer human being anywhere on the planet. He's first rate on the pitch as well as in the classroom, where he's majoring in manufacturing engineering.

  3. This is so true! Apenisa and Kyle are great players that do, sometimes go unnoticed. These "anchor awards" are a great addition to the already stellar BYURUGBYFOREVER arsenal!

  4. How often will you be doing these awards?

  5. Great comments all around and always very appreciated... especially those like Paul's that offer added insight to the topic presented.

    As for the awards, I'm thinking of just doing them once a year...

    Deciding who to highlight was tough, but I was so impressed with both Apenisa and Kyle in every game this year, that I really felt like they deserved some unique recognition.

    Of course, I also agree with Paul that a number of players improved greatly from last season... Nate Maughan especially stands out.

    Thanks for the comments and keep them coming while I decide on a fitting prize to accompany these awards!

  6. Great choices! I think that an anchor award should also go to Dan Paul. He played amazing this year and started at fullback for 90% of the games. He really stepped in and played a huge part in the teams success without getting much recognition. Also a great teammate and player off the field. Great job this year DP.

  7. Amen to the Dan Paul comment. This was Dan's last season of eligibility, since he graduated (in petroleum engineering in April). He's off working for Conoco/Phillips in Houston.

    Not many people know that Dan broke his jaw early in the San Diego State game (on the same play that Manti injured his eye). Amazingly, with blood running down his chin, he stayed in the game until the last 10 minutes or so, continuing to make tackles and contribute to the Cougar victory. He later had surgery to correct a displaced fracture. He missed playing in the final, but was an inspiration to all during and after the game. Amazing.


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