Sitting at a record of 9-1 on the season in 7s play, Cal will compete in this weekend’s PAC 7s Rugby Championship hosted by the University of Arizona at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
The PAC 7s is a two-day event with pool play on Saturday and knockout rounds on Sunday that will take place Nov. 12-13 and includes four teams that made it to last year’s Collegiate Rugby Championship.
The second day of action will be broadcast nationally on the Pac-12 network, which in 2015 also televised the championship rounds, therefore granting fans an opportunity to watch the action via TV or live streaming.
“Pac-12 network has been great about broadcasting rugby and we’re very appreciative,” said head coach Jack Clark.
This year’s PAC 7s are in Tucson, the event’s fourth location since its 2011 inauguration. In 2011, it was held at Stanford, UCLA in 2012 and 2013 and then Berkeley in 2014 and 2015.
The defending champion Bears will be accompanied by UCLA, Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon and Stanford. Cal will see a great deal of familiar opponents at this weekend’s PAC 7s, including UCLA, who the Bears faced off against in last season’s Rugby 7s national championship.
The competition will be intense but the Bears are primed to carry on their early season success and this high-level competition is extremely valuable, for a Bears team with a mix of veterans and emerging talents.
“Our conference is particularly strong in 7s rugby. The top five or six teams in the conference could beat any team in the country on a given day,” Clark said.
Additionally, the Bears will be tested by the weekend’s other participants, who are all candidates to have strong outings and compete in an effort to set up their programs for future success.
Cal is in a solid position, coming off of Oct. 22-23’s WCC7s at Treasure Island, where the underclassmen roster got some great experience that could prove highly beneficial for the collective team this weekend and beyond.
Clark’s decision to carry an all frosh-soph roster at the Treasure Island WCC7s enabled the Bears to create some depth moving forward as well, which could take some of the pressure off of the Bears leaders such as Russell Webb and Anthony Salaber.
The Bears have been catalyzed early on this season by Webb, who won tournament MVP at the Central Coast WCC7s. He should continue to be the engine that makes the Bears go and a leader the young players can turn to if he plays this weekend.
In addition, freshman Sam Cusano is an emerging talent for the Bears, as he has performed well thus far in 7s play. In his debut at the Central Coast WWC7s, Cusano scored four tries. His strong play carried on at Treasure Island and he could prove to be an integral player for the Bears’ as the season progresses.
Cal will strive to continue their strong start at this weekend’s matches, which could prove to have large implications for future competition and their defense of the prized 7s national championship.
Contact Ryan Groves at [email protected].