Rugby rolls over Air Force

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    By Jarom Bergeson

    The rugby team survived single-digit wind chill readings and a scrappy Air Force squad Friday night, March 1, to remain perfect on the season.

    The 31-12 victory at Haws Field runs BYU”s record to 12-0 and keeps dreams of an undefeated season alive.

    However, the Cougars looked lethargic at times in their first home match since Nov. 10.

    “We sure didn”t play like the number two team in the nation tonight,” said sophomore lock James Wheeler. “It was a lackluster performance at best.”

    Wheeler downplayed the effect the weather may have had on the outcome of the match.

    “I don”t think the cold affected us too much at all,” he said. “It makes handling the ball a little more difficult, but we certainly can”t use the weather as an excuse for the way we played.”

    The conditions may not have affected play on the field, but they were certainly a factor for the nearly 200 spectators who braved the bitter cold and wind to attend the game.

    “I can”t see how the weather couldn”t affect the players,” said Jeff Ricks, 24, a junior from Fremont, Calif. majoring in psychology. “It affected me and I was sitting bundled up in the stands. I know they”re running around, but I mean, the players were out there in shorts.”

    Wheeler said he was disappointed in the team”s effort and intensity against an Air Force squad that was determined, if overmatched.

    “We may have taken them a little lightly and our play reflected that,” he said.

    The Falcons dictated the tempo of the game and forced the Cougars into a number of uncharacteristic errors.

    “Air Force is obviously less skilled than we are,” said head trainer Travis Turner. “And I think the guys played down to the level of the competition.”

    Friday”s victory may prove costly as team captain and U.S. National Team member, junior scrum-half Kimball Kjar, sprained his knee and is questionable for Thursday”s home match against Utah.

    “He sprained it pretty bad,” Turner said. “But we think he”ll be ready for the Utah game.”

    In spite of the disappointing effort, the Cougars came away with the win and the continued possibility of an undefeated season.

    “Games like this should be a learning experience,” Wheeler said. “If we don”t learn from these mistakes, we”ll end up making the same ones again, and a better, more experienced team will be able to take advantage of them.”

    The Cougars have some lofty goals and playing with a lack of heart will not be tolerated.

    “It may sound like we”re doing a lot of whining for a team that won by 19 points,” Wheeler said. “But we have pretty high standards, and when we don”t live up to them we get pretty hard on ourselves.”

    It”s a mindset that has propelled the Cougars to a 12-0 record this season and has cemented BYU as one of the premier rugby programs in the nation.

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