March 15, 2016
Cal Travels For Key Rugby Match Against University of British Columbia
Photo: ABFlyer Photo
Cal Bears Press Release: March 14, 2016
Bears Seek Split in ‘World Cup’ Finale, Sunday 1 p.m. Decider at UBC,
BERKELEY – The Golden Bears make their annual trek north of the border Sunday, March 20, to Vancouver, Canada, where California (11-0, 3-0 PAC) visits unbeaten British Columbia (15-0) for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Thunderbird Stadium to complete the “World Cup” series.
Cal, which entered the 2016 “Cup” having won 11 of the last 15 series vs. UBC, is five points behind in this spring’s edition after losing the Feb. 5 opener, 20-15, in a see-saw match with three second-half lead changes on Witter Rugby Field. Faced with a similar situation last year, having lost the series opener, the Bears went into enemy territory and edged UBC, 23-21, something the Blue and Gold hope to have the moxie to repeat on March 20.
The Bears had concerns about seasoning against a T-Birds team that was firing on all cylinders going into round one in February with only two weekends of competition under their belts. This week, Cal is hoping that its recent form benefits its prospects going into the decisive round in Canada, where Cal will vie to split the series and, if possible, wrestle the annual crown from UBC by overcoming the five-point deficit in aggregate.
Since its sole loss Feb. 5, Cal has reeled off five straight wins, most recently beating Saint Mary’s, 27-14, on the road. While its 49.9 points scored per game remains prolific, the Bears must find a way to score tries against the Thunderbirds after relying solely on kicks in their last match vs. UBC and failing to get across the line in the final sequence with a chance to win that contest.
Cal’s stingy defense, currently allowing 5.25 points per game, will also be tested against the UBC, whose 20 points scored in Berkeley Feb. 5 are the most surrendered this spring by the Bears. British Columbia, which is notching 36.8 ppg on offense and yielding 13.4 ppg to the opposition, has continued to roll since the “Cup” opener, racking up four more wins, including an 80-0 drubbing of Seattle Saracens, to remain undefeated.
Cal will most likely field a forwards unit similar to the one selected for the first meeting with UBC, but in the backline, every player who started the series opener vs. the T-Birds has missed time since that match due to injury with the exception of Anthony Salaber, making lineup predictions problematic for the Blue and Gold. Similar to their scenario against Saint Mary’s, the Bears will need every player to give full measure to make it out of Canada with a positive result.
After the “World Cup” series is complete, the Bears travel March 26 to Utah, where the Utes will be the final test standing between Cal and its fourth straight PAC Rugby Conference 15s championship.
The regular season ends Wednesday, March 30, in Steuber Rugby Stadium at Stanford, where a mixed side of frosh-sophs and reserve 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 Championships kick off April 9 and culminate May 7 with the national 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, when it will play for its fourth straight national title in 7s ahead of the return of rugby to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.