If you browse through the Cal rugby record books, you’ll find a couple of games each season in which the Bears take down their opponent by a lopsided score. In the last five years, Cal has put up 100 points in 10 different matches, including a 152-0 win over Humboldt State, then thought to be the highest score in program history.
These things happen when you’ve won 26 national championships in the last 33 years.
But Cal’s 176-0 win over Stanford in Saturday’s battle for the Scrum Axe shattered the team’s record books, a cricket score in a shellacking so sound it left Cal head coach Jack Clark sounding a little embarrassed at the result.
Cal has now won its last 17 matches against Stanford.
“We have to play the Cal-Stanford game, and it’s something you have to do,” Clark said. “The game’s gotta be played.”
Indeed, there was little Clark could do to ease the pain on the opposite sideline, running through much of his 63-man roster in a game that was over before it even began. Captain Seamus Kelly was pulled from the game after just 20 minutes. At halftime, the Bears led 95-0.
By the end of the game, Cal (6-0) had put 15 different lineups on the field. The final score could have been even higher.
“Honestly, this is the highest score I’ve ever seen in my life,” said senior J.P. Hurrell, playing his first home match after playing for the Cal football team for four years. “I don’t even think playing video games I could even get that score.”
Perhaps as remarkable as the final score was the dazzling parity within Cal’s roster. Eighteen Bears combined for a total of 28 tries, but no individual scored more than two. Junior Jake Anderson led the team with 10 conversions, one of four players to connect on the afternoon.
“They did all right,” Clark said. “We weren’t under pressure, so we didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I thought we did OK.”
Even with the game far out of reach, a revamped Witter Rugby Field remained packed throughout the first half, the first game played in Strawberry Canyon in nearly three years. Clark is mulling the idea of a frosh-soph game for next year’s matchup, but this year he opted to start players from the varsity team, some of whom had never played a home match in Berkeley.
“I would have had a mutiny on my hands if I hadn’t put out a good team, right?” Clark said. “Some of these guys have been playing away games for two years, and they wanted to play.”
After two years on the road, the Bears will be playing more than half of their remaining regular season games at Witter. Next up is their first match of the conference season, against Arizona State, on Saturday.
“It’s great to not have to do so much traveling, and we have our fans help us, see our friends after the games,” said junior Jake Anderson. “It’ll definitely help us be really special this year.”
Chris Yoder covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected]