Rugby team to face Southern California foe

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    By GEOFFREY M. HOWARD

    The Mormons clash with the Catholics on the rugby field Thursday afternoon in San Diego.

    And no, Notre Dame has not relocated to Southern California. The University of San Diego is a private Catholic school.

    Two games will be played at 3 p.m. There will be an A-game and a B-game — allowing more playing time for non-starters. Rugby only allows a few substitutions during a game, like soccer.

    BYU players are still on a high from its 28-14 win over Arizona two weeks ago, senior Dave Wheeler said. He said he anticipates a physical game with a lot of hard hits and trash talk.

    Wheeler said the coaches strategically placed the physical road trip to prepare the team for a tough, upcoming schedule.

    “That was the intention — physical teams will get us ready for Stanford, Air Force, and Colorado,” Wheeler said.

    The University of San Diego has a strong rugby tradition, said Brother Tom Thing, faculty advisor to the rugby team from the USD School of Ministry. He said many players have gone on to play rugby professionally. Thing lived in Provo and worked at the St. Francis Catholic Church.

    “Rugby is a rough and tough sport…the players generally tend to be foul-mouthed,” Thing said. “The songs and traditions would not usually be associated with a minister.”

    According to Thing, the Torreros are a young team with few seasoned players — about three-quarters are freshman and sophomores. He said San Diego is in a rebuilding stage right now.

    The Cougars will stay in San Diego to take on the University of California-San Diego Tritons on Saturday.

    BYU assistant coach Mark Ormsby said he has been focusing on the big picture of the game in preparation for the weekend. Ormsby said he knows rugby techniques and has taught the team the basics.

    “We have been choreographing the type of game we want to play,” he said.

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