PROVO — The undefeated BYU men’s rugby team opens the DI-A playoffs with a quarterfinal match against UCLA on Saturday at 1 p.m. at home on South Field.
For the Cougars (14-0) to make their seventh appearance in the collegiate championship they will first have to take care of the resurgent Bruins at home.
“… We have to make sure we’re on our game this Saturday,” said BYU captain Ryan Roundy. “They’re a good team and have some phenomenal athletes, and this is postseason rugby, so anything can happen.”
Taking second in the Pacific Conference behind conference champion St. Mary’s College, UCLA is led by former Canadian international and current head coach Scott Stewart who has revived the once-powerful Bruins program.
After finishing out of the playoffs in 2011, UCLA (9-3) upset Central Washington on the road to clinch a 2012 postseason berth.
“This is going to be our toughest test this year,” the Stewart said. “We expect BYU to be very fast and physical. We need big games from scrum half Grant Penney and No. 8 Stephen Yoshida.”
BYU head coach David Smyth said he recognizes the challenge of playing a team that has everything to gain by an opening-round upset.
“UCLA is a great team,” Smyth said. “They have obviously earned their right to the playoffs. We will have to be on our best to make sure we’re able to advance. It should be a good game, and we’re very much looking forward to it.”
Admission for Saturday’s BYU vs. UCLA match are $10 for adults, $5 for students and admission is free for kids 12 and under. Tickets can be bought at the gate.
The game’s victor will take on the winner of the Mid-South Conference champion Life University and Eastern Conference runner-up Penn State match in the semifinals. If Life wins, it will host the game, if BYU and Penn State win, the game will be in Provo.
The Life-Penn State game can be seen on a live webcast at www.liferunningeagles.com at noon MT.
Other DI-A quarterfinal action sees Utah traveling to Moraga, Calif., to take on St. Mary’s in what USA Rugby is calling “the match of the weekend.” A tape-delayed webcast will be available on Monday at USA Rugby’s UStream Channel.
Meanwhile, Eastern Conference champion Army hosts Mid-South runner-up Arkansas State. The match kicks off at 3 p.m. (MT) and fans can follow live score updates and see photos from the match on Army’s Facebook page. You’ll also be able to watch the match in its entirety on a tape-delay webcast on USA Rugby’s UStream Channel on Monday.