The Cougars will battle against no. 4 ranked Arkansas State for the USA Rugby D1A National Championship Saturday, May 19, at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
BYU last encountered the Red Wolves in the 2011 National Semifinals, where BYU came off conqueror 36-15 in Glendale, Colo. That victory paved the way to the Cougar’s sixth consecutive national championship appearance.
“They are a really physical team,” said scrumhalf Shaun Davies. “We’re going to have to play our best game. We know this.”
The Cougars are on familiar ground; not only because they almost have a home advantage, but also because this will be their 7th consecutive appearance in the championship. However, the absence of BYU’s running rival for the last six consecutive years, Cal Berkley, will make this encounter less familiar.
Davies said from the start of the season the Cougars have been in the pursuit of three goals:
“To win our conference, beat Utah, and win the National Championship,” he said.
After having accomplished the first two, only one team stands in the way of completing the team’s final goal. The anticipation for Saturday’s game has been building up since day one.
“We’ve had this day marked on the calendar for a long time now,” BYU captain Ryan Roundy said in a press release. “It’s finally here and we’re excited to play in front of a big and loud BYU crowd.”
In comparison to the Cougar’s 658 total points scored this season, Arkansas State has scored a total of 555 points. BYU’s leading point scorer, Davies, has 202 points, while Arkansas,’ Patrick Sullivan, has 103.
Head Coach David Smyth finds many similarities with the team he led to the National title in 2009 and the team he hopes to lead to the title on Saturday.
“A lot of the boys who played on that team [BYU 2009] are playing on this team,” Smyth said. “A lot of the faces are familiar, as are a lot of the faces on Arkansas State.”
The game will begin at 7.30 p.m. MT Saturday. It will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and will be tape delay broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN International Tuesday, May 21.