Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ARN College Rugby Preseason Rankings: BYU at #3

With many college rugby teams in the nation already slated to play a few preseason matches in the coming months, American Rugby News has 'gotten the jump' on the rest of the internet community by releasing its "Preseason Top 25", along with commentary supporting their picks.

Despite taking the National Championship this past season, the BYU Rugby team comes in with a #3 ranking behind Cal Berkeley and Arkansas State.

ARN College Rugby Top 25

1 California
2 Arkansas State
4 Kutztown
5 St Mary’s
6 Army
8 San Diego State
9 Penn State
10 Arizona
11 Dartmouth
12 Cal Poly
13 Central Washington
14 Utah
15 Texas A&M
16 Florida
17 Navy
18 UC Davis
19 Virginia Tech
20 Colorado State
21 Rutgers
22 Sacramento State
23 Bowling Green
24 Washington State
25 Oklahoma

According to ARN's Brian Lowe, BYU's #1 finish last season was basically a fluke, not to be repeated any time soon:

"Right off the bat we don’t think BYU will repeat as national champions.

"Granted their run to the title last season was nothing short of spectacular, it’s just that we reckon much like in college football nowadays, it’s darn near impossible for most teams to repeat as champions.

"Sure, Cal has done it on a regular basis during the last couple of decades but they are the exception rather than the rule.

"In football parlance, BYU is probably akin to USC in that the Trojans won a national championship a few years ago and while they’re always in the mix they haven’t been able to get back to the promised land since.

"Cal is kind of like Florida, or perhaps it should be the other way around. The Golden Bears and Gators have been the most consistent in their respective sports in recent years, although Florida of course has been by no means as dominant as UC Berkeley."

While I have great respect for Brian Lowe, I must say that this college football analogy is less than functional... and not just because I despise USC and Florida!

First off, a "national champion" in college football isn't a title earned by eliminating the competition in a playoff system; rather, it is more of a gift granted by the deficient and self-serving BCS format.

For this reason, Cal receives even more respect for their accomplishments; no matter how much any of us dislikes Cal or wishes to downplay their program's achievements, no one can deny that they are the premier collegiate rugby team in America.

Florida, on the other hand, is the fluke in this whole equation if you ask me. Any team with a money-grubbing, Benedict Arnold of a coach isn't bound for lasting greatness... absolutely no comparison with the legendary Jack Clark. And Florida's so-called "Superman" quarterback will be a blip on the radar when all is said and done...

If you don't believe me, go back and watch the 2007 Capital One Bowl! The same team that was shamed and shunned by all for losing to Appalachian State in their season opener completely snubbed the highly-touted, "underrated" Gators! Florida couldn't buy their freedom, let alone a break, and so, as was appropriate, Lloyd Carr rode out into the sunset of Michigan glory!!!

Okay, okay, I know I'm getting carried away here... football season is just a tick away, and I'm getting the itch! But it stands that you can't compare a team with barely 3 national titles (Florida) with one that can claim 24 true titles (Cal); and conversely, you can't compare BYU to USC, who, ironically, holds claim to 11 national titles... seems like ARN should've switched up the analogy!

Enough college football talk, and no hard feelings toward Brian... after all, he's not a homegrown American anyway! So, back to college rugby. Although the football comparison fails, the real reasoning behind the rankings is about as sound as anyone could propose at this point. All we can take into consideration are teams' rosters: how many returning starters will be in the mix and how much experience the promoted secondary/newcomers will bring to the table.

All things considered, a #3 ranking is not bad... not bad at all. And although that ranking might drop throughout the fall season (if BYU again opts to not play any fall matches), let's just hope Our Boys can step up to the task once again to build upon the most amazing and legitimate National Title of any BYU sport ever!

Nothing is impossible... but the ball's in our court now. Great expectations, my friends... all eyes are on the BYU Men's Rugby team and rightfully so! Let's take the pressure and use it to our advantage, to exceed ourselves, to upend the competition once more!

Say it with me now... "BYU Rugby FOREVER!"


  1. Cal's roster is easily extracted from their website. Their roster actually changes incrementally from year to year, but the starting XV only a little. I don't believe that Brian is awfully familiar with our prospects for this year, since he hasn't talked to any of the coaches about who's coming in. All he knows is who's gone. So, since Arkansas State has nearly all of their team returning, and we had a tough time with them in the playoffs, he has ranked them above us. He has no idea who is returning from missions, what incoming freshmen we have slated and who is transferring in from other colleges and universities.

    I'm not spilling the beans too much to say that there are several very good rugby players waiting in the wings planning to play for the blue and white this Winter who didn't figure in last year's playoff run. Replacing St. Pierre, Maughan, Manti Su'a, Vito QaQa, el. al., won't be a piece of cake, but the pieces are there for a very good rugby club.

    I would be very surprised if we don't have a stronger and maybe faster forward pack than last year. Our starting front 3 return from last year, with at least 3 experienced locks (last year, nobody had played lock before at the beginning of the year). Last year's backs were exceptional, but I hear rumblings of some very capable centers and wings on the horizon. And, of course, Tupu Folau, Shaun Davies and Dillon Lubbe are returning all-americans.

    Unlike Cal, it's always interesting to see who shows up on the first day of training. That's how Sika announced himself to the coaches. He just showed up. So come to practice on 31 August and see who's there. It could be another really enjoyable year.

  2. Good to hear from the Paul Meyers pipeline!

    I'm doubly excited to hear your comment on a potentially stronger pack; that could really switch up our game to keep opponents still guessing...

    I just hope that our backline gels nicely as well.


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