The defending national champion BYU rugby team will continue its quest for repetition Saturday as it takes on Central Washington in the Varsity Cup Championship semifinals at South Field.
BYU defeated UCLA in the quarterfinals on Apr. 20 69-8 to advance to Saturday’s game, while Central Washington defeated Air Force 81-28. The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the Varsity Cup Championship game on May 4.
The Cougars went through early-season growing pains, losing two games by a combined 10 points, but have found their rhythm during the last four, winning each by an average margin of almost 90 points.
“Last year we had a very senior team,” senior flanker Ryan Roundy said. “We lost a lot of guys to graduation. We have a much younger team (with) great players, but it took us a few games to get that team chemistry going.”
Central Washington is a familiar opponent from last season’s undefeated season. The Cougars beat the Wildcats 76-7 in Ellensburg, Wash. in an early season game. This year, however, CWU has only lost one game, and seems to be a better team than last year.
“We’re going to approach it just like any other game,” junior center and dual sport athlete Paul Lasike said. “We’re not going to underestimate them. It’s a new year, so we can’t go off last year. They have new players, a new system, so we’re just going to go as hard as we can.”
The Cougars’ season has seen its adversity, from two close losses to a total of five game cancellations throughout the year. But the team has battled through it, outscoring opponents 61-12 on average and showing off the stingy defense that has complemented the potent offense.
“We could have definitely used those games just to get more familiar with each other,” Roundy said. “But we have to worry about things we can control and use the games we have had to get better. (Defense) was something we stressed at the beginning of the year — to become experts on defense. We have the weapons on offense, so we wanted to work hard on defense, and it’s paid off.”
The semifinal game will begin at 1 p.m. at the South Field Saturday and will be broadcast on KSL.com.