With many college rugby teams in the nation already slated to play a few preseason matches in the coming months, American Rugby News has 'gotten the jump' on the rest of the internet community by releasing its "Preseason Top 25", along with commentary supporting their picks.
Despite taking the National Championship this past season, the BYU Rugby team comes in with a #3 ranking behind Cal Berkeley and Arkansas State.
2 Arkansas State
5 St Mary’s
8 San Diego State
9 Penn State
12 Cal Poly
13 Central Washington
15 Texas A&M
18 UC Davis
19 Virginia Tech
20 Colorado State
22 Sacramento State
23 Bowling Green
24 Washington State
According to ARN's Brian Lowe, BYU's #1 finish last season was basically a fluke, not to be repeated any time soon:
"Right off the bat we don’t think BYU will repeat as national champions.
"Granted their run to the title last season was nothing short of spectacular, it’s just that we reckon much like in college football nowadays, it’s darn near impossible for most teams to repeat as champions.
"Sure, Cal has done it on a regular basis during the last couple of decades but they are the exception rather than the rule.
"In football parlance, BYU is probably akin to USC in that the Trojans won a national championship a few years ago and while they’re always in the mix they haven’t been able to get back to the promised land since.
"Cal is kind of like Florida, or perhaps it should be the other way around. The Golden Bears and Gators have been the most consistent in their respective sports in recent years, although Florida of course has been by no means as dominant as UC Berkeley."
While I have great respect for Brian Lowe, I must say that this college football analogy is less than functional... and not just because I despise USC and Florida!
First off, a "national champion" in college football isn't a title earned by eliminating the competition in a playoff system; rather, it is more of a gift granted by the deficient and self-serving BCS format.
For this reason, Cal receives even more respect for their accomplishments; no matter how much any of us dislikes Cal or wishes to downplay their program's achievements, no one can deny that they are the premier collegiate rugby team in America.
Florida, on the other hand, is the fluke in this whole equation if you ask me. Any team with a money-grubbing, Benedict Arnold of a coach isn't bound for lasting greatness... absolutely no comparison with the legendary Jack Clark. And Florida's so-called "Superman" quarterback will be a blip on the radar when all is said and done... If you don't believe me, go back and watch the 2007 Capital One Bowl! The same team that was shamed and shunned by all for losing to Appalachian State in their season opener completely snubbed the highly-touted, "underrated" Gators! Florida couldn't buy their freedom, let alone a break, and so, as was appropriate, Lloyd Carr rode out into the sunset of Michigan glory!!!
Okay, okay, I know I'm getting carried away here... football season is just a tick away, and I'm getting the itch! But it stands that you can't compare a team with barely 3 national titles (Florida) with one that can claim 24 true titles (Cal); and conversely, you can't compare BYU to USC, who, ironically, holds claim to 11 national titles... seems like ARN should've switched up the analogy!
Enough college football talk, and no hard feelings toward Brian... after all, he's not a homegrown American anyway! So, back to college rugby. Although the football comparison fails, the real reasoning behind the rankings is about as sound as anyone could propose at this point. All we can take into consideration are teams' rosters: how many returning starters will be in the mix and how much experience the promoted secondary/newcomers will bring to the table.
All things considered, a #3 ranking is not bad... not bad at all. And although that ranking might drop throughout the fall season (if BYU again opts to not play any fall matches), let's just hope Our Boys can step up to the task once again to build upon the most amazing and legitimate National Title of any BYU sport ever!
Nothing is impossible... but the ball's in our court now. Great expectations, my friends... all eyes are on the BYU Men's Rugby team and rightfully so! Let's take the pressure and use it to our advantage, to exceed ourselves, to upend the competition once more!
Say it with me now... "BYU Rugby forever and ever!"