By GEOFFREY M. HOWARD
After a long break, the BYU rugby team began the more competitive part of its season with two wins gained over the weekend in Arizona against the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
But the team left Provo Thursday on a sad note. Rugby alumnus Matt Brown, the father of starter Sean Brown, passed away earlier last week. Brown did not join the team on the trip so he could be with his family. Matt Brown was an assistant coach for the team three years ago.
Brown also coached David Smyth and Mark Ormsby, the two men who currently coach the team, said Shane Seggar, a senior from Salem, Utah in charge of public relations for the team. Seggar said this will be a tough time for the coaches and those whom are close to Sean Brown.
The team dedicated the games this weekend to Sean Brown and his family. The players carried Matt Brown’s memory in their hearts and through prayer before the games, Seggar said.
In the first of those games, BYU defeated Arizona 38-3 Friday night.
Saturday, the team was in Tempe to battle Arizona State University. ASU has reported having their strongest team in five years, but the Cougars managed to defeat them as well.
BYU is a traditional powerhouse in rugby. Playing in what coach Smyth describes as the toughest of seven conferences in the country, the team is consistently among the top three.
BYU has only lost one game in each of its last three seasons, after going undefeated in 1994-95, but has never been to the Final Four.
Although consistently a nationally-ranked team, BYU has never attended the Club National Championships because the tournament plays the championship game on Sunday. To eliminate the possibility of leaving a team without an opponent on championship Sunday, BYU chooses not to go to the tournament.
Smyth said BYU as well as other coaches in the league have petitioned the governing Rugby Union requesting a change in Sunday play. Smyth said he has used all methods of diplomacy but has received only lip service in return.
Smyth has not yet tried a formal petition with signatures from all of the supporting university club teams, but said he feels that about 90 percent of the coaches would support BYU in a change from Sunday play.