February 9, 2016
Cal Travels To Arizona To Play Arizona & Arizona State
Cal Bears Press Release: Feb. 9, 2016
“BERKELEY – Aiming to open its PAC Rugby schedule with positive performances in the hunt for a fourth straight conference championship, California visits Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. MT, followed by Arizona State on Monday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. MT.
Cal (5-1, 0-0 PAC) will take on the Wildcats (2-3, 0-1 PAC) Saturday at William David Sitton Field in Tucson, with a reserve-grade contest following the Starting XV. Monday, the Bears’ varsity faces ASU (1-3, 0-2 PAC) in Tempe at the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium after the reserve-grade match, which kicks off at 1 p.m. at the Sun Devil Fitness Fields. Cal is likely to travel a large squad to the Grand Canyon State, where they could spread the varsity minutes among as many as 30 different players.
“We of course want to win, but we want more to build the depth in our team,” said head coach Jack Clark. “The plan is to rest a few boys and mix up the lineups to spread the responsibility among more players.”
The Bears are coming off their first defeat of the year, a five-point loss to British Columbia in the “World Cup” opener Feb. 6 that Cal played well enough to win against an undefeated Thunderbirds team. While the Blue and Gold have enjoyed a long history of success over both upcoming opponents on this two-match road trip, no traps can be set overlooking the seasoning both Arizona and ASU may have acquired in their spring schedules to date.
The Wildcats lost a tough, 39-31 battle to Utah on Jan. 23 in their only PAC Rugby action of the spring and most recently fell to Lindenwood, while ASU began its spring slate with a trial by fire, falling to Saint May’s before dropping conference clashes against UCLA and the Utes.
On their last trip down to the desert, in 2014, the Bears beat the Wildcats, 78-7, on March 2, after defeating the Sun Devils, 76-18, on Feb. 28. Last spring, Cal beat both UA and ASU on Witter Rugby Field, shutting out Arizona and dusting the Devils.
While the Rugby Bears want to bring their best play into their PAC openers, will hope to stay as healthy as possible, having suffered the latest loss of upper-tier personnel against the T-Birds with an injury to Eakalafi Okusi.
The next home match back in Strawberry Canyon will feature Cal vs. Air Force on Feb. 20 at noon (preceded by a curtain raiser vs. Cal Maritime at 10 a.m.), followed by the conference-play visit from UCLA to Strawberry Canyon on Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online and in advance to regular-season home matches at calbea.rs/1RIZvXJ.
The match with the Bruins on Feb. 27 figures to be a pivotal point in the Bears’ pursuit for a fourth straight PAC Rugby title, coming as the third conference contest on Cal’s slate. UCLA is already off to a PAC-leading 2-0 conference record with wins at home over ASU and Oregon State.
The final two matches of Cal’s conference quest are March 12 at home vs. the Beavers at 1 p.m. and March 26 at Utah, where the Utes could prove to be Cal’s opponent in the PAC decider for the fourth straight year. Utah is also 2-0 in the conference and takes on UCLA in Salt Lake City on March 12.
Between Cal’s date with UCLA and the final two matches of the Bears’ PAC schedule is a showdown with Saint Mary’s in Moraga at 11 a.m. on March 5. That battle is followed four days later by a home night match vs. Santa Clara at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, when the younger echelons of the roster figure to represent their University.
The decisive Canadian chapter of the “World Cup” series is Saturday, March 20, at 1 p.m. in Thunderbird Stadium, and the regular season ends Wednesday, March 30, in Steuber Rugby Stadium at Stanford, where frosh-soph Bears are expected to be selected for match for the Scrum Axe against the Cardinal at 6 p.m.
The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship national postseason begins with first-round action April 9 and culminates May 7 with the championship final, after which Cal will turn back to the Olympic style of the game at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship June 4-5 ahead of the return of rugby to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.”