On Saturday, the bleachers of Witter Rugby Field teemed with excited family members and friends as Cal hosted its Parents Weekend doubleheader against Arizona and UC Santa Cruz. At the end of the afternoon, proud families walked away happy with the results of the day.
Against both opponents, Cal rugby muscled its way to victory in its first matches at home.
In the opening of PAC Rugby Conference play, the starting 15 team played a solid Arizona squad, but proved they were up to the task with a 39-12 victory.
The Bears were led by senior prop Kevin Sullivan, who scored four tries on the day, including three straight to open the game and put Cal up 17-0.
“I mean, it’s just really good strikes the phase before I get the ball,” Sullivan said. “When a guy gets in behind the defense they’re all sucking in and there’s just plenty of space to work with.”
In addition to being the game’s top scorer, Sullivan was a key playmaker on the field. Through his excellent movement with and without the ball and strong tackling, the experienced Bear tremendously assisted his teammates.
While Sullivan and his teammates had good moments offensively, they struggled with a few costly penalties which held the team back early on before it hit its stride.
Turnovers and penalties had been a subject of preparation before Saturday’s games, but the Bears still have work to do in that area, according to Cal head coach Jack Clark.
“I think those unforced errors were still in our game today, unfortunately,” Clark said. “We were penalized a few too many times and our handling wasn’t as accurate as it could be.”
In the day’s second game, Cal handily slugged UC Santa Cruz in an impressive 81-0 shutout.
Two of the Bears’ centers, freshman Christian Dyer and sophomore Agustin Centurion both scored two tries. Junior flyhalf Matthew Coyle added in five conversions, and the Bears reserve team showed it is not to be taken lightly.
The squad from the day’s second match consists of several key emerging lowerclassmen who add talented depth and will soon be looked at to carry the team.
Dyer’s fellow freshmen Keanu Andrade, George Salter, Sid Holland, and Patrick Hesse all scored tries against Santa Cruz. In addition, sophomore Elliot Webb, the brother of captain Russell Webb, scored one try and tacked on three conversions in the big win. With a lot of the team dealing with small health issues, this was an opportunity for some of the younger players to show off their value.
“Half the team’s coughing and sneezing and they’re carrying little injuries and stuff, so sometimes you just gotta use some grit and get through it,” Clark said.
As favorite to win the PAC Rugby Conference, Cal will have a target on its back throughout conference play. Next up for the Bears is a talented Utah team that will travel to Berkeley in an attempt to upset the defending national champions. Although the Bears have some work to do, they look ready to continue defending home territory over eight of their next ten matches.
Nikhil Bhumralkar covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].