Last Monday the Life University undergraduate rugby team sat in a classroom on campus, waiting for their film and analysis session to commence.
Director of Rugby Dan Payne walked in, strode up to the whiteboard and wrote on number on the board.
“What does this mean?” Payne asked. “What’s significant about this number?”
The players looked at each other for a moment, and then the light went on in several heads at once. Colton Cariaga spoke up.
“It’s the number of points Cal beat us by last year.”
After preparing all season, finishing 2nd in the Mid-South last year, and making the DI-A playoffs, Life traveled to California and lost 43-10.
“A lot of us remember that,” said Cariaga. “We had gone through a pretty good season and then in that game we found out how far away we were. We’ve talked about that 33 a lot. We think about how high the bar is set, and what we’ve done to get there.”
The message has been part of Payne’s approach throughout the season, trying to measure against the highest standard, not against the opposition. The approach has meant some big blowouts, two victories against rivals Arkansas State, and a 75-3 quarterfinal defeat of Penn State.
“We know BYU has a bunch of seniors and will be a very tough team, but we are playing at home,” said Cariaga. “And we’ve been challenging ourselves all season. We’ve been chasing that 33.”