The two most dominating forces in college rugby will meet in the title game for the fourth consecutive year, as BYU and Cal both won their semifinal matchups. Their wins ended fine seasons for Army and San Diego State.
Both teams should be commended for their play this year and their committment to raising the bar for collegiate rugby.
The BYU-San Diego State matchup was first, and the game started off in the Cougars' favor as a San Diego State player got a yellow card. With a man advantage, BYU scored first as flyhalf Dylan Lubbe scored in the corner to make it 5-0, though that was the lone try the Aztecs allowed during the card.
Lifted by the defense holding off the powerful BYU attack, San Diego State struck back as wing Chris Bredesen broke off a big run to put the Aztecs ahead 7-5. Then, with the two teams going toe-to-toe, San Diego State added to their lead as outside center Stephen Mulhall slotted a drop goal and a penalty goal to extend their advantage to 13-5 going into halftime.
But though they were down, BYU never panicked. They owned the second half, as they blanked San Diego State in the second frame while putting up 26 points of their own to roll to a 31-13 victory.
Villiami Vimahi got the second-half scoring off to a start with a try before Lubbe added his second try of the game. BYU then got a fine individual try from outside center Paul Lasike, who grubbed, recovered his own kick, and scored. Shaun Howard finished out the barrage with the final try of the game for BYU.
The contest was a hard-fought battle, as expected, but in the end BYU was just too much for San Diego State.
Unlike the BYU-San Diego State game, there was little doubt from the very beginning who would come out ahead in the Cal-Army tilt. The Golden Bears strolled out to a 25-0 halftime lead behind tries from Dan Barrett, Ryan Taylor, and Jason Law. Cal flyhalf Keegan Engelbrecht converted two of the tries and added a penalty.
Then, right after intermission, Cal extended their lead to 32-0 after a converted try by hooker Chris Biller, who was recently chosen to be a part of the first Eagle’s Assembly of the year. Later, Army finally got on the board with a try from flanker Robert O’Neill, but Cal answered right back with a try from inside center Sean Gallinger and another penalty goal from Engelbrecht to run the score to 42-5 in favor of the Golden Bears.
Army made Cal sweat a little bit towards the end, as flyhalf David Geib broke off for two tries to put the score at 42-17, but it was too little too late for Army. The loss ended an excellent postseason run for the service academy that saw them open quite a few eyes.
And that brings us to the game of the year: Cal against BYU for the National Title.
It just can’t get much better than this for a college rugby fan. Both squads have the talent and the depth to make for a great game tomorrow.
We’ll have coverage of all of the National Championship games tomorrow right here at Rugby America.