|Flyhalf Dylan Lubbe in preseason action (Photo courtesy of Paul Meyers)|
The 2012 season of BYU Rugby is upon us ... and though Our Boys, our beloved Cougars, are already administering justice upon the opposition (defeating Central Washington yesterday, 76-7), nevertheless this season represents the beginning of an era, even a new reign of dominance not to be ignored. With the ever-lauded Golden Bears of Cal-Berkeley voluntarily stepping down and out of D-1A college rugby, and inevitably relinquishing the throne to BYU, the Kingdom is come ... the Reign of BYU Rugby is at hand!!!
Okay mates, all sacrilege aside and whatever Cal's reasons for leaving, you've got to admit that we're witnessing the advent of a new BYU Rugby dynasty. In the immediate short term, the Golden Bears dodge the bullet of having to attempt to win another National Title in BYU's backyard against an obviously-loaded Cougar squad. But in the longer term, where do they go? Fifteen players-a-side is Cal's bread and butter, so ... what's next for the grizzly long hairs from the Bay Area??
Here's a hint: No more designation as 'National Champions' or as the 'Premier College Rugby Team of America'. That title now belongs to BYU by default, and I would submit that it will remain there for a good, long time. Never mind that Cal didn't put up a fight ... shoot, they didn't even raise up the white flag! It's like they snuck off with the kids and the car in the dead of night without so much as leaving a note!!
Uhhh ... well ... okay then ... good riddance!! I guess we'll be forced to inherit the mansion and family fortune!!!
Don't get me wrong, Cal-Berkeley's separation from the college rugby spotlight will come at a cost. There will be some whining and posturing for a continued monopoly on the sparse media coverage available to rugby in the U.S. Even still, what will be Cal's saving grace? Their "World Cup" series with the University of British Columbia? No, I highly doubt it. No one cares much about it besides their constituents, just the same as how no one outside of BYU and Utah cares about the Wasatch Cup. And even if Cal is still perceived to be the best team in the nation, it won't matter and it won't last. There are a number of university teams up north in Canada that are better than either Cal or BYU ... but guess what, folks? No one here in the U.S. knows or cares about them! Why? Because they don't belong to the same collective of teams here and thus cannot be deemed champion thereof!! They fall outside the realm of our immediate consideration ... so they don't matter!!!
Cal could go on a tour of Japan, beating all of the premier college teams in the land, and it wouldn't earn them much more than a pat on the back as far as the American rugby community at large is concerned. To be the best among your peers and be recognized as such, you've got to beat your best peers ... period. Not some foreigners that no one can relate to, let alone name. Suffice it to say that the Golden Age of Cal-Berkeley is fast going the way of the dodo ... and they have only themselves to blame.
To our most great and worthy opponents, let us graciously bid them a heartfelt 'adieu'.
Now, fast-forward to this year's coming National Title match in Rio Tinto Stadium ... a Cal-less, Bear-en final? Really?? It's almost unthinkable, I know, but that's about the size of it ... so, let's move on and accept the fact.
And what of those BYU Cougars with their 25- and 30-year-old, professional foreign players the size of Texas?!? (*cough*) Surely they won't be there again, will they?!?!? ... Oh yes, my beloved rugby community, they'll be there, crazy Superfans and all in tow ... you can count on it!!! They won't be quitting the highest-level competition anytime soon, if ever ...
Remember that 2009 squad? Yeah, the National-Champion one?? Well, we've got a number of those guys that were freshmen at the time who are now back from serving LDS missions and are ready to steamroll the competition. Most notably, the formidable Paul Lasike is back, as a back, to once again instruct opposing teams in the art of rugby dominance, Kiwi-style. Additionally, my favorite freshmen phenoms of 2009, the speedy back Jordan Lowry and the tenacious lock/flanker Kyle Sumsion, are back to do it again in 2012.
Also returning from missions and deserving of mention are the fast and dependable backs Austin Allred and Will Taylor, as well as reserve forwards Dave Rowley, Dan Selman and Collin Bush who didn't actually see much playing time in '09 but will be looking to step up and break out of the woodwork to challenge for a starting position.
Add to the pot a plethora of other new and old players with a wealth of potential, and we're looking at the 2012 National Champions, folks!!! Behold, the Kingdom ...
|8-man Ryan Roundy on yet another breakaway run (Paul Meyers Photo)|
My friends, enough of this mucking about! Let's get to the heart of it ... forget the Cal mystique; it's over!! The BYU Men's Rugby team is not only here to stay, but the claim they staked at the top long ago has now come due. This year, even 2012, the fabled 'end of the world', in fact only represents a new beginning, the ushering in of a new age of college rugby in America ... and not surprisingly, there stands BYU, fast at the helm!!!
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
BYU Rugby Forever!!!