One of college rugby’s most anticipated rivalry game will not happen this year as the Wasatch Cup was cancelled due to a University of Utah rugby suspension.
The University of Utah and BYU have battled each other for more than thirty years in rugby. In 2004 the Wasatch Cup was created as a way to promote the rivalry between the Cougars and Utes and to promote rugby in Utah. Ever since the competitive game was created, it has been coined as “college rugby’s rivalry.” It truly does live up to the hype. These two teams have accumulated eight National Championship appearances in the past 10 years, with the Cougars winning the championship in 2009 and 2012.
“Besides the championship game this is the biggest game of the season,” BYU senior lock TJ Allred said. “As seniors we were really looking forward to playing our rivals one last time.”
The Cougars are 8–1 in the Wasatch Cup. Four of these games were decided by five points or fewer, and two of those games had a two-point margin of victory. The Utes’ sole win against the Cougars was in 2005, when the Utes won 17–15 and then went on to face the University of California in the National Championship game. This heated battle was supposed to take place Friday, April 5, on BYU’s South Field. At the last minute the game was cancelled due to a Utah suspension.
“The timing of the news is obviously not good,” BYU coach David Smyth said in a news release. “Our boys are definitely disappointed at not being able to play against our rivals, the University of Utah. The Wasatch Cup is a big deal here in our state, and it not only hurts both of our programs to not play this game, but it hurts rugby in general here in Utah. It’s a sore and sad day for both programs.”
The reason Utah’s rugby program is under suspension is not very clear. However, Utah’s communications director Keith Sterling said the club’s suspension has to do with the club’s use of the University of Utah’s branding.
“We were disappointed to learn that the club was using the University of Utah mark after they were instructed not to last year,” Sterling said in a news release. “We are evaluating our future relationship with the club.”
The possible three-year suspension would mean no Wasatch Cup for three years. The University of Utah has not made a clear decision on the suspension and is investigating the infraction.
The Cougars are now preparing for UCLA in the National Championship tournament which starts Saturday, April 20, in California.