Utah Valley Lands Coaches, Looks To Strong Fall

Utah Valley University surprised many by beating UCLA in the Varsity Cup last spring. Now UVU is looking to build on that success.

As the largest university in the state of Utah, UVU was for years a major contender in DII. But the growth of high school rugby in the state has made it possible for the Wolverines to compete at a higher level. This fall, Utah Valley will compete as an associate member of the D1A Rocky Mountain Conference while also running a B side in the Mountain States Conference.

With so much going on, the program needed coaching help. Former USA national team prop Mate Moeakiola has been brought in as co-head coach. He will be working closely with co-head coach Adam Griffee. Michael Griffee, Tonata Lauti, Kave Lauti, Cornell Saluone, Wayne Latu, Neru Palu, Kepueli Lauti, and Elvis Hansen are all part of the coaching staff.

Lauti was a star for the University of Utah and joined UVU as the backs coach last year. His brother, Kave, coached the UVU 7s team.

Mate Moeakiola was a prop for the USA, and will now help coach UVU. David Barpal photo.

"Mate, Michael, and I all played for Utah in the national championships [final] in 2005 and semis in 2006, and we look to bring that winning mindset to the wealth of raw talent that UVU has to offer," Griffee said.

Griffee said the UVU team took a big step last season, and that was with a group that mostly started playing in January.

"About three-quarters of our team started in January," Griffee said. "Last year, we really moved forward thanks to a lot of new blood."

Four players from Tonga joined UVU and helped lead the team. Of those players, three -- flankers Fatai Makavaha and Timote Tuipulotu, and hooker Jonathan Lokotui -- are the cornerstone of a dominant forward pack.

"Their defense was incredible, and they were our leading scorers and should be on the All-American team soon," Griffee said.


Leka Kinikini, who played No. 8 last year and ran the ball with power, is also among the returnees. He is joined by the lock combo of Beau Tautu and Devin Rasmussen, who have been working hard in 7s this summer. Jesse Afuvai should be back after a paperwork mistake made him ineligible last year.

In the backs, captain and flyhalf Kepu Lauti has graduated and now joins the coaching staff. Three rising sophomores showed well last season -- Toni Falatau (the fourth of that quartet from Tonga), Tau Maumau, and Vinny Maumau.

Some talented freshmen are coming in, too. Sione Tauataina is a Utah all-star, as is Herriman No. 8 Zak Barker. Suene Tauanu'u is a talented fullback, and Mathew Christensen is a select-side prop from Washington.

So UVU doesn't look like a one-hit wonder. The Wolverines now have an accomplished Eagle on their coaching staff and are recruiting some really strong freshmen. Next up, full admittance to the Rocky Mountain.

Alun Wyn Jones: "There's More Pressure From Playing At Home"

Wales have not lost at home in the Six Nations since February 2017, something that will increase the pressure when they host France in the championship on Saturday, according to Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

Eddie Jones Reshuffles England Lineup For Huge Ireland Match

England have reshuffled their back division for Sunday's pivotal Six Nations clash against Ireland at Twickenham, with coach Eddie Jones moving Jonathan Joseph to the left wing and Elliot Daly returning to full-back.

James Haskell Set For MMA Professional Debut

Former England rugby union international James Haskell will make his professional mixed martial arts debut in London on May 16th, it has been announced.

Four BOLD Predictions For The Weekend

Looking ahead to the upcoming weekend of rugby, there are a number of huge fixtures on tap. Major League Rugby moves into its third round, the Six Nations resumes, and collegiate rugby marches on through the teeth of its season. 

Guinness Pro14 Round 12 Watch Guide

The Guinness PRO14 continues this Friday with the start of Round 12. 

On-Form Vakatawa Returns As France Looks For 3-0 Six Nations Start

Barnstorming center Virimi Vakatawa has handed France a massive boost after being named in the team to play Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Biggar Cleared As Pivac Names Wales Team For France Test

Dan Biggar will start for Wales against France in the Six Nations on Saturday after recovering from a third head injury of this season.

Scotland Names Lineup, Looks For First 2020 Six Nations Win

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has dropped center Huw Jones for Saturday's Six Nations match with Italy with both sides bidding for their first win and the loser likely to end up with the wooden spoon.

If It Ain't Broken Don't Fix It: Ireland Side Unchanged For England Clash

Ireland coach Andy Farrell named an unchanged starting lineup for Sunday's Six Nations clash with England to the one that impressed in the 24-14 victory over 2019 Grand Slam winners Wales.

WATCH: Life Aims To Rebound At Home vs Rival Lindenwood

Following last week's defeat to the Arkansas State Red Wolves, their first in the past 30 games, the Life Running Eagles will look to get back in the win column on Saturday at 1:00 PM (ET) when they host the Lindenwood Lions.