BYU Women's Rugby

BYU Women’s Rugby Team Concludes Tryouts, New Roster Announced

By Dolli Player - Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Kylie Clark - BYU Women's Rugby

Provo, UT - The top ranked Brigham Young University Women’s rugby team wraps up their fall season tryouts, announcing a 45-player roster and preparing for the start of USA Women’s DI College rugby game play.

“I feel really good about the future of the program,” said head coach Tom Waqa. “The quality of players has improved drastically since last year’s tryouts, and I look forward to having a good season with this group.”

The Cougars finished their winter season with a 48-0 victory against Virginia Tech in May of 2019, winning the USA Women’s College Spring DI National Championship. This is the highest rank that the team has achieved since their inaugural season as a BYU sanctioned team in 2016. Moving forward, the team is setting their sights on building a team that can defend that national title.

“Yes, the success of last year was big for our program, but we want to build on it and not rest on our laurels or be complacent,” Waqa said. “We want to work hard and earn our rank again this year.”

After three days of tryouts and 106 new participants, the BYU women’s rugby team announces a roster of 45 players. This roster includes 23 returning members squad members, as well as 22 new athletes.

New team captains were also announced at the conclusion of tryouts. Senior Emily Briggs was named captain, with senior Alisa Baker named as co- captain. Forwards position coach Tevita Atalifo and back line coach Kisa Kalougata also return this season to coach the team alongside Waqa.

Competitive play for begins the team on Saturday Sept. 28 at 10:30am against Utah State on home turf, after an intrasquad blue-white scrimmage on Sept. 21. For more information on game times and tickets, visit

Utah Attorney General Celebrates with BYU Women's Rugby at State Capitol

By Jenae Hyde - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - The Daily Universe

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes poses with BYU Women's Rugby Team at State Capitol June 5, 2019. (Jenae Hyde)
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes (top right) pose with BYU Women's Rugby players, and Head Coach Tom Waqa (bottom left), Extramural Sports Director Morris Havea (top left). (Jenae Hyde)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes recently met with the BYU women’s rugby team to commemorate the team’s first USA Rugby D1 College National Championship.

“The Utah Attorney General’s Office congratulates the BYU women’s rugby team for winning this national championship and inspiring youth, and young women in particular, to further their educational goals, work hard, play by the rules and become winners on the field, in the classroom and in life,” Reyes said at a commendation ceremony on June 5.

Reyes earned his bachelor’s degree with summa cum laude distinction from BYU in 1994 and then earned his law degree from UC Berkeley with honors marks. He was the first statewide elected official in Utah from a minority community.

Reyes acknowledged the uniqueness of the team, using his own example of being the first elected minority official, and reminded the women of the responsibility that comes with that.

“You have with your success some responsibility,” Reyes said. “All of you are unique in many ways … with that, again, there is a responsibility. That’s one that you all carry with you wherever you go. You’re champions, and you need to remember that. Comport yourself that way.”

Triumph of the Spirit — BYU women’s rugby wins national championship

By Aaron Fitzner - Thursday, May 9, 2019 - The Daily Universe

BYU women’s rugby holds the national championship trophy. The jerseys worn in the championship game were the same jerseys that were worn during the Cougars’ first game as a recognized sport with BYU in 2015. (BYU women’s rugby)
BYU women’s rugby holds the national championship trophy. The jerseys worn in the championship game were the same jerseys that were worn during the Cougars’ first game as a recognized sport with BYU in 2015. (BYU women’s rugby)

Matthews, NC - The BYU women’s rugby team captured its first-ever national title on May 4 with an overwhelming 48-0 win over Virginia Tech. The story for this game, however, is more than the final score.

The story for this game started in 2000 when women’s rugby began at BYU. The script was revamped in 2010 when the women’s rugby squad chose to chase honor rather than a national title. In 2015, the script from this story was changed again when the rugby team became officially recognized by BYU. All of these stories became one telling tale of a team in 2019 that featured not only the current roster but every athlete that has ever put on a rugby jersey representing BYU.

When the women’s rugby squad at BYU was first organized in 2000, there were only a few players that started the program, and recruiting was tough. Students left the following summer, and only a few came back the following year. Julia Hobbs, a player from Oklahoma, was instrumental in keeping the program afloat at that point.

BYU Wins First DI College National Championship

BYU Women's Rugby win W DI College National Championship 2019

Saturday, May 4 2019 - By Jackie Finlan (Recap Courtesy of The Rugby Breakdown)

Matthews, Charlotte, NC - BYU has claimed its first USA Rugby DI College Spring Championship and capped the title run with a 48-0 win over Virginia Tech today in Matthews, N.C. Across three post-season games, the Cougars have outscored opponents 162-7.

Virginia Tech made the first big impression, using an unforced passing error to set up a crisp lineout and driving maul. BYU didn’t join in an attempt to draw a penalty, but as the maul sprinted down field, a defender panicked, joined the maul and legitimized the drive. The defense then swarmed to halt the try just in time. A penalty later followed to extend the Virginia Tech attack, but back-to-back errant passes eventually ended the Hokies’ first big scoring opportunity.

BYU had its penalty issues and took a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown, but those mistakes didn’t occur as the result of buckling under pressure. They were aggressive, yet ill disciplined mistakes – in-from-the-side or diving-over penalties while trying to steal the ruck.

Aside from those missteps, the Cougars’ ability to poach possession was a difference-maker. Just when Virginia Tech looked like it was building some continuity or put itself in the position for a steal, BYU took the ball back. Lineouts were also vulnerable. Obviously it was tactically important, but it was also emotionally dampening for the Hokies.

BYU Advances to DI College Spring Championship

UC Irvine 2019 - BYU W Rugby

Saturday April 20, 2019 - Cougar Rugby News Editor

UC Irvine, CA - The BYU Women's Rugby Cougars punched their ticket to the DI College Spring Championship in Matthews-Charlotte, North Carolina on May 4th, by defeating Stanford on Friday April 19, 65 - 0 in the Quarterfinal, and then took care of a strong UC Santa Barbara side on Saturday April 20, winning that Semifinal game by 49 - 7.

On the weekend, the Cougars' defense took it to Stanford and UCSB and nearly pulled off a complete shutout scoring a combined 114 - 7 in two games. UC Santa Barbara's try came from an intercept when BYU was on attack inside UCSB half.

During the Stanford game, the Cardinals applied pressure in the beginning of the game Friday, and it took awhile for the Cougars to regain control and started putting points on the board. BYU led 24 - 0 at the half through tries from Alisa Baker (2), Pamela Patton, and Rachel Strasdas. BYU finished the day with putting up 65 unanswered points through tries from Elle Peterson, Matalasi Morrissette, Sandy Kanuch, Hannah Beagley, Pamela Patton and Tiana Tolman.

The Saturday, UCSB vs BYU semifinal match up was the most anticipated game that the rugby crowd was looking forward to see this past weekend. There was about 20 minutes of rugby where the two teams applied pressure on each others goal line. BYU drew first points through Heather Erickson with a try in the corner. This was followed by tries to Hannah Beagley, Sandy Kanuch, and Lora Gubler. BYU led 20 - 0 at the half with kickers finding it hard to land conversions against the wind.

BYU Coach Tom Waqa, had a lot to say in the halftime huddle, and demanded more from the players, "You have 40 minutes left to empty your tank. If your tank is not empty then you keep giving 100%. We need the W."

BYU Cougars 1-1 on the Road

BYU Women's Rugby at CWU 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019 - Cougar Rugby News Editor

Boise, ID/Ellensburg, WA. (Mar 8-9) – The BYU Women's Rugby team (12-0) travelled to Boise State to play BSU Women in a friendly on Friday March 8, 2019. The Cougars were able to dominate that game and come out on top. BYU scored 12 tries and converted 9 of them. The final score was BYU 78 BSU 0.

Then the Cougars travelled to Central Washington University to play in their season's home and away fixture on Saturday March 9. The Wildcats defeated the Cougars 42-12.  
"We took a step back from a previous encounter last October, and lacked the intensity and drive to match up with a good Central Washington side." Coach Tom Waqa said. "We are trying to rebuild for the season ending coming up, so this loss, even though it is very humbling, we as a team can really identify areas to work on."
The Wildcats scored their first try just five minutes into the game. CWU's center standout A'au took the ball and drovethrough a handful of Cougar defenders to give the Wildcats a 5-0 lead.
The Wildcats were able to take the ball away and went on to capitalize. CWU's Odette was able to get the ball past the try line to increase the Wildcat lead to 10-0.
Central Washing got in on the scoring after CWU's Sagapolu powered through a pair of BYU defenders was able to dive in for her first try of the game. Her teammate Kauahi got in on the action with a try of her own after dashing down the sideline into the corner for her first try.

2019: New Year. New Look. Same Legacy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 by BYU Women's Rugby Editor

Provo, UT - BYU Women’s Rugby have revealed the new 2019 home and alternate kits, which will be worn by the BYU women’s rugby team throughout the current & coming season 2019-2020. The design of the shirt takes inspiration from Canterbury of New Zealand (USA) TOA Everest design and motto - “To be brave, and bold.”

The design, which creates a sublimated design to give a ‘textured sublimated look’, uses a variety of school ‘Y’ logos, and tribal tapa design on the sleeve, reflecting on our participation and inclusion model under Extramural Sports, together with honor and rugby tradition at BYU. The jerseys also include VapoDri technology, which is designed to wick moisture away from the body and maintain core temperature.

“Women’s rugby at BYU began in February 2000, when Julia Hobbs, 19, a sophomore from Norman, OK, put up fliers on campus, asking girls interested in playing to call her.”

“Over 100 girls called,” Hobbs said. Many have since dropped out or gone home for the summer — only 12 girls remain.” By Emily Bell – NewsNet Staff Writer – 31 May 2000.

Rachel Strasdas Jersey

BYU Women’s rugby tradition  lives on;  from those 12 dedicated girls, to a highly ranked team in the Nation today. With an average roster of about 40 girls, sometimes more, every Winter/Spring and Fall semester, and a dedicated coaching staff, it is highly unlikely that the sacrifice made by the founders of women’s rugby at BYU will ever fade away. This is indeed a living legacy.

If everything goes according to plan, the new home kit will be worn by the Women’s Rugby team for the first time on Saturday February 23, 2019 against University of Wyoming in Provo, Utah.

BYU defeats CWU, capping a 11-0 Fall 2018 record

Saturday October 27, 2018 - 2.00pm MDT ; By Maddie Kunzler, Cougar Rugby News & Guest Editor

Kathleen Dzaran, Tayzlie Tripple, Rachel Strasdas, Katie Gurney enjoying the moment before the big game Sat Oct 27.

Provo, UT - The BYU Women’s Rugby team had a great close to their season this Fall 2018 semester. This past, Oct 18-20 weekend, they traveled to Phoenix & Mesa, Arizona to compete against four teams - Grand Canyon, Arizona State, Arizona & Northern Arizona University. On the Friday October 19th, the Cougars started off with a win, beating Grand Canyon University 72 - 5. On Saturday October 20th, both A and B side teams were able to compete against University of Arizona, Arizona State, and Northern Arizona University. Highlights of the tournament included great runs by prop Jaelen Makasini, wing Tiana Tolman, and center Delaney Rakuita; a stellar kick by #9 Brooklyn Grange, run down by center Rachel Strasdas for a try; and a beautiful interception by wing Madeline Kunzler that led to her try under the posts. The team worked hard to maintain possession and play tough defense throughout the day.

ASU Round Robin Tournament October 20th, Final Scores:
> vs. Grand Canyon, 72-5
> vs. U of A, 49-0 ( A Side)
> vs. ASU, 50-0 (A Side)
> vs. ASU, 29-0 (B Side)
> vs. NAU, 49-0 (A Side)
> vs. U of A, 10-5 (B Side)

This past weekend, Saturday October 27th, BYU Cougars played their last game of the season against a strong Central Washington University. This was the most anticipated game of the season and the Cougars came ready to play. The game took place at the old Provo High School Stadium and the Women’s Rugby team was excited to be the first BYU sanctioned team, to ever compete on this new BYU property.

Women's Rugby off to a 3-0 start this season

WRugby Roster MSU game Sep 29 2018

By Cougar Rugby Editor - Saturday September 29, 2018

Provo, UT - BYU Women's Rugby are off to a good start this season. The Cougs began their campaign on the road to Colorado and came away with  3 wins on the weekend of September 21-22. On Friday, September 21, BYU Cougars defeated Colorado Mesa by 79-12 through some stella performances from #9 Brooklyn Grange, #13 Rachel Strasdas, #11 Tiana Tolman, #10 Matalasi Morrissette and #8 Elle Peterson. The team moved on to Colorado Springs where they featured in two games against Air Force Academy A & B sides. Final Scores: BYU A 77 AFA 5; BYU B 12 AFA B 7.

Last week Montana State University Women's Rugby side, visited the Cougars at home for a Rocky Mountain Rugby Conference DI Game. BYU performed at a high level shutting out MSU 111 - 0. In front of 100 spectators, and parents, the Cougs started the game with 3 tries in the first 5 minutes, and outscored the opponents 68-0 in the first half. Final Score: BYU 111 MSU 0.

BYU Women's Rugby is looking forward to visting Utah Valley University Women's Rugby at UVU Grass Rugby Field, by the McKay Education Building on 800 S in Orem, for their RMRC DI Conference game this Friday October 5, 2018. Kickoff is scheduled 5.30pm MTN.


Women's Rugby Prepare for DI College 2018-2019 Season

By Dolli Player, September 18, 2018, The Daily Universe.

McFadyen - Kick Conversion vs ASU

Provo, UT - The BYU women’s rugby program has brought home many wins for the university while consistently flying under the radar.

The program has existed for 18 years after being founded by a student in the year 2000. In those 18 years, the team has grown from a group of 12 girls to a team of over 40 and is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Head Coach Tom Waqa took over the team in 2004 when the organization was still recognized as the Women’s Cougar Rugby Club. After coaching the unofficial team for 11 years, Waqa was chosen as the official coach of the women’s team when the school gave it extramural status in 2015.

The team prides itself on taking girls with little-to-no rugby experience and crafting them into elite, nationally recognized players. Recognizable names include six-time All-American and member of the USA national team Jordan Gray, former World Rugby 7’s team member Rebekah Siebach, and former national team member and current coaching assistant Rebekah Hebdon.

“I grew up playing different sports and found out that I could incorporate them all into rugby, and it ended up being my favorite (sport),” Hebdon said.

Stories like Hebdon’s are common, with most of the past and present players coming to the team with a background in sports like soccer, softball and track.

“My favorite moment of last season was seeing the new girls who just played one semester playing a game in the DI Elite semifinals,” Waqa said. “For new girls to come in and pick up the game after just two months and play at the highest level is very encouraging for the program.”