Editor’s Note: This is a replica of the recap that was published by the Daily Californian on May 6, 1985, when the Cal rugby team won its first national title under Jack Clark. The article was written by Mike Woitalla.
PEBBLE BEACH — The University of California rugby team captured its fifth national title in six years yesterday with a 31-6 victory over the University of Maryland Terrapins.
After cruising past the University of Colorado in Saturday’s semi-final game of the National Collegiate Championships, 39-21, the Bears marched into the final aiming for their 22nd victory of the season.
“We did everything we could,” Maryland’s Scott Keefer said. “We played the hardest we could.”
The Bears played harder. And they played better. The Terps did, however, come out strong and their smaller forward pack matched up surprisingly well with Cal’s for the first portion of the game.
“What they lacked in size, they made up in hunger,” Cal forward Brian Walgenbach said.
But hunger can get you only so far when you’re playing against a squad that has not lost against a U.S. collegiate team all year.
Cal only allowed the Terps into dangerous territory once. That came 15 minutes into the game when Maryland’s Robert Skalka capitalized to score his team’s only try.
Robert Mascheroni’s penalty shot 33 minutes into the game added three points to Cal wing Gary Hein’s try and gave the Bears the one-point lead they brought into the second half.
“The main thing that we talked about at halftime was just smile and have some fun,” Cal’s Don James said. “It started happening. We started scoring tries. When we loosen up we can kick ass, and that’s what we did.”
With the start of second half play, the Bears systematically chewed away at Maryland’s defensive game. Mascheroni took the first big bite, scoring a try off a Robert Salaber pass.
“I got a pass from Johnny Metheny,” Salaber said. “The defender committed on me and Mascheroni was shooting into the gap. Right when I got the ball I got nailed, but Mascher was there.”
Ten minutes later, Mascheroni offered the pass that set up a Mike Metoyer try, and the score moved to 17-6.
The Bears waited about six minutes before striking again. Salaber, starting at center in place of a injured Steve Ellis, initiated the scoring process.
Salaber knocked a loose ball away from a Terrapin. Two passes brought the ball to Ramon Samaniego, who relayed it to Hein. In much the same fashion as he scored Cal’s first try, Hein sped around the right wing for four more points.
Hein scored his third try minutes later. Salaber iced the cake with a 65-yard run into the try zone shortly before the final whistle.
“Three guys overcommitted so I cut against the grain,” Salaber said. “Then all I had to do was run around one guy.”
Celebrations followed soon after. The Terrapins, who started off impressively, must return to the East Coast with a score that indicates rout.
“They (Maryland) were very feisty in the first half and their work rate is very high,” said an exuberant Cal coach Jack Clark. “It was obvious in the second half when we started driving in the lineouts that we were wearing them down.”
Yesterday’s game was Cal’s fifth in nine days, including Saturday’s semi-final and last week’s regionals. Although markedly slower at getting up than usual, the Bears showed good stamina in preventing the Terrapins from running around the outside.
The Bears were, in essence, both bigger and faster.
“I’ve played for five years, and last year was the first year I’ve never won a championship,” James said. “I didn’t really realize what it meant until I lost one.
“In the second half I just knew we were going to win. It was just great.”
Mascheroni led Cal’s scorers yesterday with 11 points. Captain Mark Lambourne scored the same amount during Saturday’s semi-final game, to end the season with a team-high 110 points.