When people hear stories of David and Goliath, they are generally preconditioned to root for the former, not the latter. Throughout history, and especially in our current political and social climate, people have tended to cheer for the underdog in battles of strength.
There are, however, some exceptions to this unwritten rule — cases in which a dominant figure is so likable that their dominance is adored, not abhorred. The Cal rugby program is one such case, as the attitudes of the players and coaches are so humble and amicable that one cannot help but root for the almost undeniable victor.
The Bears have scored more than 80 points in their past three victorious contests, and they held all three of those opponents to under 20 points. The message sent by these scorelines is simple: Cal is the commanding power on both sides of the ball, rendering opposing teams incapable of expecting a win — regardless of their aptitude.
The team’s next likely victim is rival Stanford, which Cal will be facing on enemy turf. The Cardinal have won their past two matches, besting San Jose State 65-10 and Nevada 36-17, but they lost to Arizona in late January, 74-14.
Stanford’s most formidable offensive weapon comes in the form of junior back Cale Williams, who scored two tries against both San Jose State and Nevada. Williams is a quick and crafty ball carrier, and he has proven his aptitude at weaving his way through opponents’ defenses. The Bears should be aware of Williams as they set up a defensive game plan.
Cal, which has seen quality play from every player on the roster so far this season, will likely continue to put diverse lineups out on the field, maximizing the game time experience for each member of the team.
“It’s important that some of the players that are up for it get an opportunity to play with the varsity team because the learning there is more intense,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark.
So far, Clark has given plenty of players that opportunity. In the Bears’ last matchup against San Diego State, a multitude of players contributed to the high scoreline. Freshman wing/center Marcus Shankland put away three tries for the Bears in their most recent win, and junior flyhalf/center Elliot Webb contributed with a try and six conversions.
While those Cal mainstays might not receive as much playing time in the lineup this week, they will nonetheless likely prove to be very effective during their minutes on the field.
“We’ll put mostly a very young team on the field against Stanford next Wednesday,” Clark said.
Because of the size of the Bears’ roster, this midweek game should be a good chance for younger players to prove their worth on both ends of the field. Especially with two vital matches coming up for Parents Weekend, this Goliath-esque force must continue to show that it is the singular most powerful force in collegiate rugby — all the way through the roster.
Sophie Goethals covers rugby. Contact her at [email protected]