This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Provo • California is back on top of the college rugby world after dethroning four-time defending champion BYU on Saturday at South Field in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup title game.
The Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes to defeat the Cougars 40-29 and win their 26th national title.
Cal's Niklas Boyer scored on a try and conversion to give the Bears a 33-29 lead with seven minutes remaining, and the Cougars failed to answer. That came three minutes after Anthony Salaber had pulled the Bears to within 29-26 with about 10 minutes left.
BYU defeated Cal 30-27 last year at Sandy's Rio Tinto Stadium to win the title, but this time the Bears were the stronger team down the stretch.
Tua Laei of BYU scored from distance for the Cougars to give the home team a 29-19 lead, but the conversion attempt failed. Calvin Whiting's long penalty kick also put points on the board for BYU early in the second half.
The Cougars led 14-12 at halftime, despite blowing some excellent scoring opportunities in the first half. Ryan Blazer's try put BYU up 21-12 early in the second half, and the Cougars were in good shape when Laei scored a bit later. But the Bears wore down BYU with their methodical play, and exacted some revenge for last year's close loss.
It was BYU's first loss of the season after the Cougars won their first 22 games, including a 68-20 win over Arkansas State in the semifinals.
At Moraga, Calif., BYU's women's rugby team came up just short in its quest to win its first national title, falling 15-5 to five-time champion Penn State. This is the first year that BYU's women's team is an officially recognized intramural team on campus.