Cal rugby holds on to Scrum Axe in massive win over Stanford

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Phillip Downey/File

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Most undergraduate students at UC Berkeley are under the age of 22. With a majority of the population between the ages of 19 and 21, the concept of living for 22 years — let alone accomplishing something for 22 years straight — is, quite frankly, unfathomable. Thus, the fact that the Cal men’s rugby team has bested rival Stanford for 22 years straight is awe-inducing. For most current students at Cal, the Bears’ win streak began before they were even born — and that fact in and of itself is enough to make your head spin.

On Wednesday evening, Cal (8-0, 1-0) trounced Stanford by a whopping score of 135-0 (say it out loud, and it might prove to be the longest-syllabled game result that you’ve ever heard).

In the competition, 13 of the Bears’ 15 starters were freshmen or sophomores, all of whom contributed to the shutout victory. Cal amassed a sizeable lead in the first half, emerging with a 58-0 advantage over Stanford in the first 40 minutes of play.

“I think they did all right,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “I think that there’s some good talent in that group — I think they’ll be good players in time.”

It’s become a bit of a tradition for the Bears to demolish the Cardinal early on in the spring 15s season. In 2016 and 2017, the habit became evolved into more than just simple wins — rather than merely beat its Palo Alto rival, Cal would pummel its adversary by triple digits. In 2016, that came in the form of a 121-5 scoreline, and in 2017, they improved it to an unfathomable 120-0. This year, the Bears have again bested themselves in a show of improvement that somehow feels unnecessary.

That mass of points was generated by eight different Bears — the majority of scoring come from senior wing Justin Dunn, who scored three tries for the Bears in the course of the half. Sophomore scrumhalf Ken Kurihara also exhibited his playing prowess, scoring a try and three conversions in the first half. Dunn and Kurihara combined for 26 of the team’s 58 points in the first half.

Cal’s offense only continued to roll in the second half of the game, scoring nearly 1.5 times as many points as they put up in the first half. In the latter half of the match, a different set of Bears carried the offensive deluge.

Senior wing William Fuller tallied three tries while freshman flyhalf Desi Streater contributed a try and five conversions — all in a 12-minute time span. Fifth-year center Matt Ternan and senior hooker Brian Joyce tallied two tries each in the half, and the score mounted to a massive 135-0 as the Bears’ defense held strong.

For the Bears, most of the scoring came from either freshmen or sophomores, showing that Cal’s aptitude extends through all years of the roster. As the Bears prepare to take on tougher competition this weekend, this win will serve as a reminder of their supremacy on the field.

Sophie Goethals covers men’s basketball / rugby. Contact her at [email protected]