It is unheard of in nearly every sport to outscore a batch of opponents 240-7 at a tournament — but for the Cal rugby team (4-0), which has a knack for defying the norms of most popular sports, it was simply another display of continued superiority in the world of collegiate rugby.
While the scoreline was impressive on its own, it was the depth and breadth of the Bears who contributed to the mass of points that is truly extraordinary. In the first three games — all of which took place Saturday — all 48 Cal players who made the trip down to Los Angeles received playing time, allowing head coach Jack Clark to see what each and every one of his players was capable of.
In their first battle Saturday morning the Bears went up against UC Santa Cruz, leading 20-0 at the half and closing out the game with a rout of the Banana Slugs, 51-0. Freshman hooker Jack Manzo starting the scoring off for Cal in that game, scoring a try just two minutes into the game. While Manzo began the scoring torrent, it was senior wing Justin Dunn who tallied the most tries for the Bears in their first game, compiling three throughout the course of the match.
The win against UC Santa Cruz, high-scoring as it was, would prove to be the Bears’ worst offensive showing of that day by total points scored.
Cal’s next victim was UC Davis, whom the Bears mauled 54-0. This game featured more of Cal’s veteran players, with sophomore prop Damon Wiley tallying two tries and junior flyhalf Elliot Webb scoring a try along with three conversions. Fifth-year flyhalf Jamie Howells also contributed to the effort with four conversions.
The Bears nearly emerged from the day without being scored against, until their third opponent, UC San Diego, scored a try and a conversion in the 30th minute of the match. Cal once again dominated throughout the game, scoring 45 points in the first half alone, 19 of which came in a three-minute stretch towards the end of the half. The Bears matched their first-half score in the second half, eventually triumphing over their final opponent of the day, 90-7. Freshman wing Marcus Shankland scored five tries in the game for 25 of Cal’s total 90 points.
Sunday proved to be more of the same for the Bears in their final, and what was projected to be their most challenging, match of the weekend. Cal faced UCLA at the Bruins’ home field and shut them down, finishing the weekend with a final 45-0 win over the Bears’ Southern Californian rivals. Wiley helped to lead the way in Cal’s offensive effort, tallying two tries in the contest. Howells contributed four conversions for the win, missing only one along the way.
If the opening weekend of a season is any indication of a team’s capabilities, the Bears have something to look forward to this spring. With a deep team and a strong young group of players, Cal has shown that it has the rugby chops needed to create another successful 15s season.
Sophie Goethals covers men’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected]