By Jarom Bergeson
The BYU rugby team swept through the Golden State Jan. 24 and 26.
The No. 2 Cougars beat Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 24-12 and thumped Cal State Long Beach 55-16 to open the second half of the season 2-0 and improve to 9-0 overall.
BYU struggled to pull out a win against the Mustangs but came up with a solid performance to defeat the 49ers.
“We had a couple veterans step up and pull us through,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. “I don”t think we would have won without them.”
Sophomore lock James Wheeler said the team took out a lot of frustration in the win against Long Beach.
“We were a little rusty in the Cal Poly match,” he said. “But the team came back strong against Long Beach.”
The decisive victory in the Long Beach match gave the Cougars an opportunity to give some valuable playing time to many of the younger players.
“Everybody got in the Long Beach game because we were absolutely killing them,” said BYU rugby head trainer Travis Turner.
Although the Cougars came away with victories, Smyth said the team has plenty to work on if it plans to beat the best teams in the nation and remain undefeated this season.
“We need to transfer the ball better, be more aggressive, and play more as a team,” he said.
The physical and sometimes violent nature of rugby was manifest as senior forward Cameron Coop played for more than 10 minutes with a broken rib.
“These guys are so tough,” Turner said. “Cameron told me he was willing to go back in if the team needed him, but the coaches decided we could win without him.”
This was the rugby team”s first venture outside of Utah and southern Idaho this season, and Wheeler said the travel might have been a factor in the narrow margin of victory against Cal Poly.
“It”s always tough to go on the road, but we can”t use that as an excuse,” he said. “Cal Poly is a top 10 team and they deserve a lot of credit for giving us all we could handle.”
The rugby team is off until Feb. 14 when it travels to UC Davis. The next home match is Mar. 1 against Air Force.