BYU Rugby has submitted a release saying their Wasatch Cup match with Utah has been called off as the University of Utah rugby program has been suspended.
Requests for comment from Utah Head Coach Blake Burdette were not immediately acknowledged, but RUGBYMag.com will continue to seek comment from the Utes program.
(See more on this issue here)
Utah Rugby actually played under a suspension of sorts in the fall. The team and the players were registered with USA Rugby as the Salt Lake City Rugby Club. This was part of a compromise between the University and the team after unspecified violations related to player behavior almost scuttled the 2012-2013 season. Utah played the fall 7s season unofficially as the University of Utah, and their games were reported as being played by "Utah." However in official channels they were Salt Lake City, thus keeping the university and the team at arm's length from each other.
Now, it seems, that a second violation has occurred. According to today's release, there are no specifics on what the rugby team, players, or coaches may have done, but the team is suspended from playing immediately and will not play in the 2013-2014 season.
This is a huge blow to the Varsity Cup, as Utah was slated to play in the Varsity Cup against Air Force on April 20.
BYU head coach David Smyth said he was told directly by the University of Utah administration today, Tuesday, that Friday’s Wasatch Cup match could not take place under any set of circumstances.
“The timing of the news is obviously not good,” Smyth said emphatically. “Our boys are definitely disappointed at not being able to play against our rivals, the University of Utah. The Wasatch Cup is a big deal here in our state and it not only hurts both of our programs to not play this game, but it hurts rugby in general here in Utah. It’s a sore and sad day for both programs.”
It is poignant that RUGBYMag.com was working on a story about Utah's troubles, and how they might be behind the Utes. Co-captain Mike Juszczak said on Friday that he was excited about the future of the team.
BYU will hold a clinic in place of Friday's game for all area youth and high school players.
A team is being sought to replace Utah in the Varsity Cup, the western bracket of which begins April 20 at UCLA.
BYU will play UCLA, Air Force is awaiting their opponent. On the same day, April 20, the US Naval Academy will hosts their own match against Dartmouth, as well as Cal v. Notre Dame.