Cal Beats Texas to begin Varsity Cup

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April 11, 2016

Cal Beats Texas to begin Varsity Cup

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Photo: ABFlyer Photo

Cal Athletics Press Release: April 9, 2016

BERKELEY – No. 2-ranked California has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship after shutting out Texas with 22 tries scored in Round 1 Saturday on Witter Rugby Field, where the Golden Bears also defeated Santa Clara, scoring 11 tries in a non-postseason matchup using a virtually all-freshman/sophomore lineup.

Moving past the overmatched Longhorns, the Bears (16-2) will face Army in the Varsity Cup quarterfinals Saturday, April 16, in West Point, N.Y. The Black Knights beat the Sooners, 55-10, Saturday at Oklahoma.

Cal fielded close to a full-strength team of starters against UT and got most of them off the pitch for replacements by the 20-minute mark before going into the break up, 55-0.

Longhorn winger Steve Taylor missed two penalty kicks of 40 meters each, one in each half, as Texas failed to find its way into the scoring column.

“We’re really grateful to Texas for making the trip. It was hard on them but they were resilient throughout,” said head coach Jack Clark. “For 30 years these first-round matches have been more lopsided than everyone wants. So even more respect for the Longhorns seeing it through.”

Starting scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer scored two tries and went 4-for-7 on conversions before yielding to sophomore Zachary Tavenner, who scored four second-half tries. Other multi-try scorers included Lucas Dunne, with three, and Connor Sweet and Karl Thornton with two apiece. Kicking duties were taken over by Jamie Howells, who was successful on 11-of-15 conversions.

“The goal was to advance and play well,” said matchday captain Nick Salaber. “The goal this week is work hard and set ourselves up to keep improving. Army is going to be a tough team.”

In other Round 1 action Saturday on the Cal side of the bracket, Utah defeated Air Force, 36-31, in Salt Lake City, qualifying the Utes for the quarterfinals against Central Washington. The Wildcats beat the Bruins, 44-15, in Ellensburg, Wash., and will travel to Utah for their quarterfinal clash.

On the other side of the bracket, while Brigham Young and Arizona State stood by for their evening start in Tempe, Ariz., the Cougars and Sun Devils learned the winner will travel to Hanover, N.H., for a quarterfinal against Dartmouth following the Big Green’s 30-25 win over the Nittany Lions at Dartmouth. Navy defeated Notre Dame, 57-3, in Annapolis, Md., and Arkansas State was a 50-0 winner over Clemson in Jonesboro, Ark., setting up a quarterfinal match between the Red Wolves and Midshipmen at Navy.

It was a successful Saturday in both matches for the Bears, as the frosh-sophs followed the First XV with a stomping of Santa Clara, 73-3, on 11 tries scored, nine of which were converted by Matthew Coyle. The Blue and Gold treated their fans to a show of focused rugby for a total of 160 minutes, savoring the opportunity to play in front of their friends and families on Witter Rugby Field for the first time in six weeks.

“In patches I was really impressed with the frosh-sophs. With work, there is some real potential in their ranks,” coach Clark said. “Santa Clara always has some players and they are a well-coached side. So god for our boys to get the victory.”

Cal can earn one more home date this postseason with a quarterfinal win at Army, which would send a Varsity Cup semifinal back to Strawberry Canyon on April 23 against the winner of Utah-Central Washington. But in the single-elimination setting of the national postseason, planning too far ahead can be costly.

Regardless of whether the Bears earn a berth in the semifinals, Cal has one more non-postseason fixture to play, a home contest against the NorCal Small College All-Stars also planned for April 23 at a kickoff time to be determined once Cal’s postseason pathway is assured.

The national collegiate championship final of the Varsity Cup is set for May 7, after which Cal will turn back to the Olympic style of the game at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship June 4-5, when the Bears will play for their fourth straight national title in 7s ahead of the return of rugby to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

The Scoring Timeline vs. Texas

02:00 Lucas Dunne 5

09:00 George Vrame 5

12:00 Nicklas Boyer 5, 2

14:00 Jesse Milne 5, Nicklas Boyer 2

21:00 George Vrame 5, Nicklas Boyer 2

27:00 Karl Thornton 5

31:00 Nicklas Boyer 5, 2

37:00 Karl Thornton 5

39:00 Connor Sweet 5, Jamie Howells 2

Halftime: California 55, Texas 0

42:00 Jamie Howells 5

44:00 Kevin Sullivan 5, Jamie Howells 2

50:00 Zachary Tavenner 5

54:00 Zachary Tavenner 5, Jamie Howells 2

55:00 Anthony Kosinski 5, Jamie Howells 2

58:00 Zachary Tavenner 5, Jamie Howells 2

59:00 Lucas Dunne 5, Jamie Howells 2

61:00 Zachary Tavenner 5

67:00 Connor Sweet 5, Jamie Howells 2

69:00 Lucas Dunne 5, Jamie Howells 2

72:00 Miles Honens 5, Jamie Howells 2

77:00 Olivier Damas 5

80:00 Kevin Sullivan 5, Jamie Howells 2

Final Score: California 138, Texas 0

The Team vs. Texas

15. Thornton, 14. Honens, 13. A. Salaber (Ternan @ 19:00), 12. Milne, 11. Dunne, 10. R. Webb (Howells @ 19:00), 9. Boyer (Tavenner @ 32:00), 1. Walsh (Ogburn @ 40:00, 2. Bush (Haynes @ 28:00), 3. Vrame (Sullivan @ 25:00), 4. Kondrat (Damas @ 38:00), 5. Zerbino (Kosinski @ 40:00), 6. Sweet, 7. N. Salaber, 8. Gaffney

The Scoring Timeline vs. Santa Clara

02:00 Peter Sekona 5, Matthew Coyle 2

10:00 Matthew Coyle 5, 2

12:00 Santa Clara (Alex Piñon) 3

15:00 Alexander de Gentile-Williams 5, Matthew Coyle 2

18:00 Evan Coleman 5, Matthew Coyle 2

21:00 Aidan Flynn 5, Matthew Coyle 2

Halftime Score: California 35, Santa Clara 3

42:00 Alexander de Gentile-Williams 5

45:00 William Fuller 5, Matthew Coyle 2

52:00 Jack Iscaro 5

60:00 John Warnock 5, Matthew Coyle 2

65:00 Matthew Coyle 5, 2

70:00 Agustin Centurion 5, Matthew Coyle 2

Final Score: California 73, Santa Clara 3

The Team vs. Santa Clara

15. d’Auriol (Kawash @ 58:00), 14. Fuller, 13. Flynn, 12. Centurion, 11. Coleman, 10. Coyle, 9. Goodwin, 1. Sekona (Harmon @ 60:00), 2. Iscaro (Joyce @ 60:00), 3. Douglas (Baylor @ 60:00), 4. Bixby (Frey @ 71:00), 5. Paylor, 6. De Gentile-Williams (Hershberger @ 60:00), 7. Mirhashem (Weigold @ 60), 8. Becker (Warnock @ 60:00)

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant