For the ninth straight year, the Cal rugby team (4-0) opened its spring 15s season as champions of the Dennis Storer Classic, hosted by rival UCLA on its North Athletic Field. On both Saturday and Sunday, the Bears’ entire 54-man roster saw the field and delivered the elite caliber of play for which they are known.
Although each match was shortened to accommodate the number of teams playing in the tournament, the Bears still managed to rack up 217 total points on 33 tries while conceding only one try throughout all four matches, eclipsing the 165 points they put up in last year’s All-UC Tournament. The Cal squad overpowered its opponents, averaging 1.35 points per minute while allowing an average of two points per game.
Cal began its tear in a matchup with UC Santa Barbara. Cal junior Nicklas Boyer opened up the scoring early to make it a 5-0 match. The Bears took the lead and never looked back. Following Boyer’s try, freshman flanker Edward Tandy scored his first career points in his rookie debut. The rest of the Cal unit followed suit, scoring 12 times and blanking the Gauchos in a 72-0 beating to start the day.
“I was very excited for my first game, and I think all of the freshmen performed really well,” Tandy said. “We are the building blocks for the future, so we were glad to see the field and deliver for our team.”
The Bears took the momentum into their second game of the day against UC Davis. Cal came out firing in the first half of play, scoring three tries while keeping the struggling Aggies in check. With the score standing at 21-0 at halftime, the Bears took command of the game. Ten minutes into the second half, Cal doubled its lead from the first half and looked primed to hold onto its second straight shutout of the day. However, in the closing seconds of the match, Davis’ Ryan Albin scored off of a Cal turnover, ending the match with a score of 42-5.
The Bears seemed to enter their third and final match of the day with a renewed ferocity after allowing their first points of the tournament, and the Cal squad showed no mercy to Riverside. Led by a hat trick from sophomore Cameron Todd, the Bears pounded the Highlanders for 13 tries from just nine players and connected on 10 of 13 conversions. The powerful Cal attack overwhelmed the Highlanders, while the Bears’ defense stood tall en route to an 85-0 victory.
“This was definitely a great start to our season,” Todd said. “We played to our system and just need to keep building on our basic skills and carry that on throughout the season.”
In the final match of the weekend, the Bears’ defense was on display against host UCLA. Cal finished out the tournament with an 18-3 victory, winning the Dennis Storer Classic. Tries were scored by Jake Anderson and captain Seamus Kelly, while the Bears’ defense only conceded three points off of a penalty kick. The Bears downed the Bruins decidedly and brought the tournament trophy back to UC Berkeley for the ninth consecutive year.
“It was a good way to prepare ourselves, especially our young guys, for the season,” Kelly said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re looking forward to a test here in a few days against Maritime.”
The Bears will open the regular season Wednesday as they travel back to the Bay Area to take on California Maritime Academy at Bodnar Field.
Christian Legg covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].