They both joined their highly-respected college teams with strong high school pedigrees.
Both are a little short for their positions, but have made up for it with physical strength, intelligence, and grit. Both helped their teams to national championships, and both are now team captain.
Saturday, Ryan Roundy and Seamus Kelly will face each other once again.
Roundy will captain BYU and Kelly will lead Cal as the two face off in the Varsity Cup Championship Game Saturday. They do so after helping their teams through difficult starts in their semifinal matches – games that ended up runaway victories.
“Central Washington took it to us,” said Roundy, bluntly, about the semifinal that saw the Wildcats lead 15-8 late in the first half. “In those first 30 minutes they wanted it more than us. We made mistakes and they made us pay.”
But BYU rebounded.
“We got a big try before halftime, and we got together and said, ‘we know the potential this team has. We can’t let them push us around.’”
At Cal, three botched kickoff receptions allowed Navy some prime attacking scrums in the Bears 22. Only some inspired defense kept Navy to three penalty kicks (two successful) during that time.
Meanwhile, Kelly was inspirational all by himself, especially early. It was his poach in a ruck that started their first successful foray into Navy territory, and his dancing run that capped it off, too.
“I think we started off with some mistakes that took us off our focus a little bit,” said Kelly. “I always believe that actions speak louder than words, especially in a leadership role. I think that’s something special about our guys. It doesn’t have to be me; everyone seems to do something special to pick everybody up.”
So both played a major role in their team’s semifinal, as expected. Both said it was a team effort to win. Both will be the focus of opposing defenses this week.
Roundy is a hard-working No. 8 who makes up for his lack of height (he’s 6-1) with power running, bone-rattling hits, and a massive work rate. Kelly (5-10) isn’t the biggest center, but he is supremely strong and his ability to make defenders miss is unmatched. Kelly will likely pair with young Jesse Milne in the midfield. Milne was an injury replacement, but a good one. Those two will face Hoseki Kofe and Paul Lasike in a clash of two of the best midfields in the country.
Roundy will look to back row partner Kyle Sumsion, who has had a superb season, to take on the likes of Jack O’Beirne, Tiaan De Nisschen, Alec Gletzer, and lock/loosie Danny Barrett.
“I know a lot of these guys, having played with them in the All Americans,” said Roundy. “I know Seamus and Danny Barrett, and they’re great players. We have a lot of mutual respect. I think it adds something extra special to the game, not that it needed it!”
Not that it needed it, indeed. BYU will host Cal at BYU’s South Field this Saturday at 1pm local time, 3pm EDT, Noon PDT. It will be a hostile environment for Cal, without a doubt - possibly more hostile than their last meeting, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City. Cal won that time 21-14.
“Going in against BYU is going to be a major challenge,” said Kelly. “But we welcome it.”
And the teams welcome the reunion, too.