The No. 2-ranked BYU rugby team will play No. 6 Utah in the highly publicized Wasatch Cup to start off league play this Saturday at Rio Tinto stadium in Salt Lake.
“This is the most important game of the year,” said BYU captain Ryan Roundy. “From the very first practice, we’ve been talking about the Wasatch Cup. Our first goal of the season is to beat Utah.”
Last year BYU split its games with Utah, winning the first in the Wasatch Cup, 15-10, but losing the second in front of 7,500 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, 31-29.
“The fact that we didn’t come away with the win last year up at Rio Tinto has just given us the extra fire that we need,” said BYU’s Ray Forrester. “When I first got here to BYU, I didn’t think I was going to get caught up in the passion of the rivalry. But when I train, thinking of Utah makes me train harder just thinking about them right now my heart rate’s going up.”
In order to win BYU will have to defend Utah's Thretton Palamo, who is the youngest player to ever compete in the Rugby World Cup as an 18-year-old in 2007 for Team USA against South Africa.
“Part of our main game plan against Utah is trying to contain [Palamo] as much as possible,” Roundy said. “We know how he plays, so we know what his strengths are and what some of his weaknesses might be.”
But rugby is a 15-person team sport.
“[The Utes] go on so much about their one or two good players that they do have, but we take pride in the fact that our whole 15 are solid players,” Forrester said.
BYU comes into the game undefeated, only allowing 3.6 points per game while scoring 66.6 PPG. While Utah’s scoring hasn’t been as prolific (39.2 ppg), the Utes have only lost once to defending champs Cal in a short game, 35-0.
“We’re just going to follow the game plan that the coaches have given us and play as hard as we can and we know that we’ll come out of it with a solid win,” Forrester said.
The game starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets may be purchased Online at wasatchcup.com or in person at Rio Tinto stadium.