BYU men’s rugby seeks 4th-straight national championship

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BYU rugby has shown national dominance by winning the national championship the past three years. The Cougars aim for another in 2015.

Rugby has been the most dominating sport on BYU’s campus over the past decade. The Cougars have won four national championships in the past six years while having a perfect league record at home for more than four years. This year’s squad is ready to continue the winning tradition.

Sophomore No. 8 Hayden Johnson passes the ball to junior scrum half Luke Mocke after winning a scrum against Cal Poly. The Cougars beat the Mustangs 74-5 on January 31 in Mesquite, Nevada. (Josh Jamias)
Sophomore No. 8 Hayden Johnson passes the ball to junior scrum half Luke Mocke after winning a scrum against Cal Poly. The Cougars beat the Mustangs 74-5 on January 31 in Mesquite, Nevada. (Josh Jamias)

“I’m excited to see how we put the team together this year; we’ve got a relatively new team with people back off missions,” junior All-American Jonathan Linehan said. “This season will be interesting to see who steps up, because there are a lot of spots up for grabs. I’m just excited to see the finished product.”

One of the players looking to grab a starting position is sophomore Tua Laei. Laei played on the 2012 national championship team as well as the USA under-20 men’s national team before putting rugby aside to serve a mission for the LDS Church in the Philippines.

Solid recruiting and continual conditioning during the offseason have put the Cougars in a position to contend for another national championship.

A BYU plaer wrestles a NYAC player during a game played in the 2014 season. (Sarah Strobel)
A BYU player wrestles a NYAC player during a game played in the 2014 season. (Sarah Strobel)

“I’ve been on a strict diet of chicken nuggets and McDoubles,” Linehan said sarcastically. “Seriously though, I’ve been studying film more and working with the players outside of my position because my role is a lot of decision making.”

The preparation the athletes have put in has not gone wasted. The Cougars opened up their season by beating Arizona State 72-8 on Jan. 10. They pummeled the University of Utah 50-22 two weeks later. The Cougars will get to face the Utes again on March 21 in the annual battle for the Wasatch Cup.

With big hits, no pads and games that last only 90 minutes, a BYU rugby game is the perfect combination for a great afternoon this spring.

“It’s a lot of hard-hitting, fast-paced action, and I guarantee that you’ll love it,” Linehan said.

The Cougars’ first home game will be held on Feb. 21 at South Field Stadium against Air Force Academy.

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