BYU to host rugby invitational

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    By David Hawks

    The BYU men?s rugby team will host a two-day BYU Invitational this weekend for the first time in the club?s 42-year history.

    ?The invitational will give us a feeling of how it?s going to be in the playoffs,? head coach Jared Akenhead said. ?It will also give us a chance to play teams we wouldn?t normally face during the season.?

    The three other teams that will compete this weekend include the University of Utah, Texas A&M and the University of Colorado. Utah and Colorado are nationally ranked, while Texas A&M is a team on the horizon and last year?s Big 12 champs. The Utes are currently No. 7 with a record of 3-2; Colorado is No. 19 with a 4-3 record.

    Since BYU has already played Utah this year, the Cougars will face Colorado at 8 p.m. on Friday and Texas A&M at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

    ?This will be my third time playing Texas and Colorado,? senior Mike Poelman said. ?We can expect a physical battle. Both of these teams are better than most we have faced already this season.?

    The tournament will begin at 6 p.m. Friday when Utah faces Texas A&M. Since these are some of the best teams in the nation, fans can expect a good show.

    ?The competition will be better than we have seen in previous games,? Akenhead said. ?I think the tournament will give us a better indication of where we stand as a team.?

    Akenhead said the tournament will give the Cougars an opportunity to show support to other schools, while also showing off the BYU community. The Cougars also want to prove to the visiting teams they are contenders for the national championship.

    ?We want to put all our practice to use,? Poelman said. ?Ideally, we want to win big. We want to do well in every aspect of the game.?

    Although the invitational is a chance for younger BYU players to gain more experience on the field, the Cougars are planning to give their best effort.

    ?The team roster will be a little different this weekend,? Akenhead said. ?We?ll put our best team on the field and hope to make an impression on the visiting teams.?

    Akenhead said the coaches have been evaluating the players these past couple weeks and have assembled the best possible lineup for this weekend. He said the coaches are finally putting all the pieces together.

    ?This is the first year we?ve built a team to play at a specific time and place: the playoffs,? Akenhead said. ?When we face the top teams, we want to feel comfortable that we?ve done everything in preparation for that time.?

    Since the national championships are played on a Friday, Saturday format, the BYU Invitational will give the Cougars the experience of playing two games within two days.

    Akenhead has high hopes for his team. He said he wants the Cougars to be a championship team and not just a team of champions. BYU has the best of both worlds with several star players and an undefeated team. So far this season, the Cougars have a 4-0 record.

    Since the Cougars play two games in two days, Akenhead hopes to use substitutions to keep the starting players fresh for Saturday?s game. Once a player is substituted out of the game, he cannot come back in.

    This weekend, the JV team will also be able to take the field in its game at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

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