Defeating every one of its opponents this season—once by as much as a 101-point spread—the BYU rugby team added a second national championship to its history. Meet four of the players who contributed to this championship—and get a mini-lesson on a few rugby positions and terms while you’re at it.
At the beginning of a rugby match or when a rule is broken, players form a scrum, or a mass of monstrous aggression that is something like a backward tug-of-war. With heads down and arms interlocked, this hugfest of players heaves forward and pushes against the opposing team as they compete for the ball rolled into a tunnel of tree-trunk legs.
The scrum is a battle won by inches, and for BYU, A. Mikey Su’a (’13) is a prop—the muscle. His job is to bulldoze the opposing team’s props in a scrum to help the hooker on his team snag the ball.
In rugby the positions are divided into forwards and backs; forwards, such as the prop, create holes and get field position while the backs do most of the scoring. “The forwards do the hard yards and the backs get all the glory,” says Su’a. Hard yards are Su’a’s forte.
“The size helps,” says the 5-foot-10, 297-pound Su’a. “It’s easier to push people off.” Indeed, his stature rivals that of any BYU football lineman. But off the field, Su’a is a loving husband, father of two, and mentor for troubled youth at Provo’s Discovery Academy. He may be a teddy bear off the field, but being a terror on the field earned him the 2012 championship-match MVP award.
The No. 8
Each position in rugby is assigned a number from 1 to 15, and players wear corresponding jerseys. Forwards are numbers 1–8 and backs 9–15. Smack-dab in the middle of 1 and 15, a no. 8 connects the forwards and the backs and needs to be one of the most fit players on the field. Just ask BYU no. 8 Ryan S. Roundy (’13).
“I work to be in the best shape I can, which helps me to be one of the guys on the team who can hustle around the field for all 80 minutes,” Roundy says. As team captain, Roundy gets the guys up early and leads extra fitness sessions—on top of the grueling practices. They do all sorts of painful things to build their power and fitness: sprinting to the 22-meter line within ever-decreasing amounts of time, sliding a 45-pound metal plate 100 yards down the field, and crab walking up and down the Smith Fieldhouse stairs.
Roundy’s hustle has earned him family bragging rights. His stepbrother is Utah’s head rugby coach, and each year BYU and the U of U vie for the Wasatch Cup. “There’s a lot of family rivalry in that game,” Roundy says. “I’ve won every single Wasatch Cup since I’ve been here at BYU, so I’ve been able to hold that over my brother.”
Flyhalf and Scrumhalf
As the flyhalf, a back position, Dylan C. Lubbe (BS ’12) is comparable to a football quarterback: he’s a playmaker. He works in tandem with scrumhalf Shaun M. Davies (’12), who retrieves the ball from the forwards and passes it to the backs. Together they manage the play patterns and strategy of the game, with Davies managing the front line and Lubbe the back line. And this duo has had lots of practice. They played rugby on the same high school team in South Africa and came to BYU together. Davies says they just read each other: “If Dylan’s going to try to make a little run, I can recognize that before other people and run off him, . . . and vice versa.”
Having played every back position, Lubbe knows his stuff. “There’s always a joke about the forwards being the workhorses on the field and the backs being the pretty boys,” Lubbe says. “But the competition between the two parts helps [everyone] perform their roles.” And Lubbe has proved he is more than a pretty boy. In 2009 he helped lead BYU to its first national title. In that same game his sidekick Davies was match MVP.
Now the South African pair, both four-time All-Americans, have two national championships to their names—not to mention Davies was subsequently selected to play with the USA Eagles, the national pro team.
Upholding a Championship Reputation
In their seventh consecutive championship-match appearance, the BYU rugby team held on to win its second national title, beating Arkansas State 49–42 and capping a perfect 17-0 season at Utah’s Rio Tinto Stadium. Ten Cougars were subsequently named All-Americans—a third of the total awarded—and Shaun M. Davies (’12) was invited to play pro rugby for the USA Eagles.