The Greatest Upset in College Sports History: BYU Rugby Unseats Powerhouse Cal

Dumont WalkerSenior Analyst IMay 4, 2009

Perhaps the greatest upset in sports history took place this weekend in Stanford, Calif., and most of the world didn’t even know a game was taking place.

What could be such a ground-breaking moment in sports history, you may ask? Sunday was the culmination of the Division I college rugby season. And for the fourth year in a row we saw the meeting of two powerhouse programs when the Cal Bears and BYU Cougars took the field. The result, however, was something that few would have predicted: a 25-22 BYU victory.

The Cal Bears have been the golden standard for college rugby in the United States seemingly since the beginning of time. The Bears have won a record 24 national titles including five in a row entering this season. For most you either love or hate the Cal Bears and what they have accomplished over the last 30 years. Some hate the Bears for their dominance of the game while others love them for elevating the level of colligate rugby in the United States.

One team that has generated a rivalry with the Bears is the BYU Cougars who have fallen victim to the Ca Bears in three consecutive years. Entering Sunday’s Championship game, most felt BYU was once again overmatched. And it would take nothing short of a heroic effort to overcome the odds.

To begin with, the championship game was played in Cal’s backyard of Stanford California and the 3,400 who showed up were ready to cheer on the Bears. To make matters worse for BYU, the Cougars would take on four yellow cards during the course of the game. At times BYU was actually playing 13 on 15 with a two-man disadvantage.

Nonetheless the Cougars continued to battle back from adversity. Entering the half down, 12-7, the Cougars were not ready to go down without a fight.

The second half saw BYU attacking the Bears at the gainline. They tackled like mad men as they forced the issue and caused turnover ball in the ruck. As the second half wore on, the pressure was too much for Cal to handle. Thanks to a few penalty conversions, BYU ended the game leading, 25-22.

There is no doubt this one of the great upsets of colligate sports history. Many teams from around North America have tried to break the hold Cal has had on American rugby and for a team to break through on the biggest stage and in their own back yard is nothing short of phenomenal.

Congratulation to the BYU Cougars for completing one of the great upsets of all time.