The Utah Rugby Club is 4-0 and has moved all the way up to No. 7 in RugbyMag.com’s latest poll. Utah was unranked in an earlier poll while BYU moved down from No. 1 to No. 3 after a 30-24 loss to newly-minted No. 1 St. Mary’s.
Utah, which dismantled Oregon State over the weekend, will also return to the Varsity Cup this season after missing last year due to a suspension of the club by the university.
The Utes’ strong start this spring has seen steady progress, but the teams they have beaten are not in the same class as three of Utah’s next four opponents: UCLA, California, and BYU.
The Utes will need to cut down on their unforced errors when they take on the UCLA Bruins in St. George in two weeks. That game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 8 at the Snow Canyon High School’s rugby pitch.
Here’s a full recap of Saturday’s match from Hugh Brown:
UTAH 58, OREGON STATE 0: At Corvallis, Ore., Saturday’s match started slowly for Utah as they were blown up for numerous penalties and OSU controlled the ball. The Beavers got close to the U’s goal line several times, but were turned away. Following a missed Oregon State penalty kick, and after 24 minutes of scoreless play, Danny Christensen slotted a penalty goal and the Utes had a 3-0 lead.
A Utah player was yellow carded 26 minutes into the match and had to leave the field. OSU had a lineout at the Ute 5 meter line with Utah down the player, but the Utes held them off. They then mounted a strong attack and, following a quick tap on the OSU 25 meter line, some good passing put the ball in Christensen’s hands and the standoff dummied his first pass and wove through the defense for a try (which he converted) at the 33 minute mark that resulted in a 10-0 lead. Another quick tap, followed by four phases of play, put the ball in Matt Ball’s hands. He crashed through two tacklers and fed Christensen who scored in the corner at the 36th minute. The successful conversion made it Christensen 17, Oregon State 0.
Two minutes later Utah took the restart and Scott Strong burst through the OSU backs with only the full back to beat and passed to Tonata Lauti who scored under the posts. The conversion upped Utah’s lead to 24-0 and the Utes’ sin binned player returned to the pitch. The final score of the half came 2 minutes after that when Utah won a scrum at the Oregon State 5-meter line and Keoni Hamala passed to Christensen who again dummied his defender and scored. Christensen injured his ankle on the play, however, and had to leave the match.
Drake Myers kicked the conversion for a 31-0 halftime edge.
Six minutes into the second half, OSU turned the ball over at their own 35-meter line and Taylor Thomas broke several tackles and scored a try in the corner for a 36-0 lead.
The Beavers drove to the Utah 10-meter line, but were held when the Utes first stole a lineout and then won an OSU scrum. The Utes then went on the attack and, following a quick tap, Strong made a clean break and fed Gabe Ruffin who scored a try for a 41-0 advantage 15 minutes into the half. Oregon State came right back and had several penalty kicks at the Utah 5-meter line where they tapped the ball, but were held out of the end zone.
The Beavers were then penalized four times in a row and Utah moved back deep into OSU territory where Ball took a quick tap and smashed through the defense for a try and a 46-0 lead at the 31 minute mark. Seven minutes later, after a number of phased play actions, Kaleb Hogan bulled into the end zone and Utah led 51-0. The final score of the match came 40 minutes into the half when Nate Kingsford fed Thomas who made a clean break and scored under the posts. Madsen, who had been hooking his kicks, was successful on this conversion for the final 58-0 margin of victory.