By Douglas Strother
In a titanic struggle Wednesday night, Oct. 8, the BYU rugby team lost 12-5, against the more experienced Provo Black Jays.
It was never going to be easy for the Cougars as the coaching staff opted to play their second and third string players. For many, it was their first game of rugby.
“You take 20 guys on their team (Black Jays) and times the years of experience, they”ll probably have a few hundred years more experience than us,” said BYU assistant coach Kendall Erickson. “If we make mistakes but play hard, we (the coaching staff) are fine with that.”
Four minutes into the game, the Black Jays were awarded a penalty 20 meters out from the Cougars” goal line. A quick tap was taken and the ball was spread wide to the Black Jays left winger who flew in for the try, making it 7-0.
The Black Jays dominated possession throughout the first half, but for the most part, the Cougars” defense held firm. The biggest cheers of the half came as a result of two defensive stops from a pair of Cougars” players. The first came from John Mizukawa, a five-foot, 115-pound winger who brought down a Black Jays player with a copybook tackle. The next came from lock Craig Clark who chased down an opposing winger, saving a try in the process.
The Cougars” best opportunity to score in the first half came when the backs received the ball just meters from the Black Jays” line. Unfortunately, the ball was dropped over the line.
The big hits on defense continued in the second half by both sides, as player after player was driven backwards. The only try from the Cougars came because of defensive pressure on the Black Jays goal line. A perfectly placed kick forced the Black Jays to turn. As the Black Jays attempted to clear the ball, it was dropped, and winger John Mizukawa skillfully scooped it up and planted it down for the try.
“I”m just glad I could contribute to the team,” Mizukawa said. “It”s just fun being out here, points or no points.”
The Cougars inched closer 7-5, but that would be as close as they would get. After Mizukawa”s try, scoring opportunities for the Cougars were few and far between. The Black Jays defense dominated, but the Cougars” inaccurate passing and ball handling helped them.
“Our back-line needs a lot of work,” Mizukawa said. “We need to be more fluid in getting it out to the wings.”
The Black Jays finished the scoring with a try in the left hand corner.
Despite the loss, Erickson remains positive.
“Across the board, there was no one that was lacking in effort tonight,” he said. “I”m really proud of them for that.”