The Cal rugby team has done it again — that is, the Bears have scored at least 100 points against their opponent.
In Saturday’s quarter-final Penn Mutual Varsity Cup match against the University of Texas, the Bears put up an impressive 100-7 victory against a Texas team that just couldn’t seem to find its footing.
The slippery ball and muddy field didn’t help as both teams were stuck navigating play through rain showers that luckily resisted breaking into a full-blown thunderstorm.
“We got off to a pretty good start in difficult conditions,” said head coach Jack Clark. “I think it was hard on the Longhorns. We were cycling a lot of ball pretty quickly, and I think it led to a lot of early tries, and we were able to stay on the front foot most of the game. … I think (the Cal players) did a good job of playing within their skill set and not pushing things with a slick ball.”
The Bears’ starting roster featured a slew of new faces, including sophomore flanker Edward Tandy, who was consistently able to maneuver the ball down the field and resist tackles from desperate Longhorns. His play, alongside that of senior wing Lucas Dunne, was key to a technically sound performance that specifically built upon the lineout drives the Bears have been working on in recent practices.
Sophomore Kevin Sullivan was also new to the starting roster and, according to Clark, cemented his role as prop during a high-stakes game.
“You know, those are all new guys to the starting lineup, and I thought they really brought some quality to what we were doing,” Clark said.
Dunne was able to notch three tries on the scoreboard throughout the game — a team high matched only by that of Bears co-captain and fifth-year senior fullback Jake Anderson, who also scored three tries in addition to successfully kicking three conversions for a total of 21 points.
But the Bears are hesitant to linger on the win and have already started looking forward to what’s ahead.
Winning against Texas in the quarter-finals means the Bears will return to Witter Rugby Field to host the semi-final round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championships. This gives graduating senior players such as Anderson a chance to walk the field and play in front of their home crowd once again.
“I mean, we’ve turned the page pretty quickly, because it’s the postseason. We just don’t have a lot of time to, you know, think about this particular game,” Clark said. “We really need to get on to the next game. But with that said, you know, I think the boys can feel pretty good about today.”
The team returns to practice in anticipation of its next game, focusing on not only the physical aspects of rugby but the mental aspects as well.
“Some of the preparation isn’t physical — it’s a mindset,” Clark said. “We’re in a single-elimination tournament, and we’ve earned a right to play again, and what we need to do is leave this game behind and focus on the next game.”
Jessi McDonald covers rugby. Contact her at [email protected].