Cal Rugby started its 15s season on a high note, posting a 4-0 record at the Dennis Storer Classic hosted by UCLA. The Bears tallied 133 points, while only giving up seven points in the four games.
On Jan. 14, the Bears played three games and the day started with a 40-0 win versus UC San Diego with junior Hugo D’Auriol and sophomore Cormac Heaney each scoring two tries. The Bears next faced off against UC Davis and won 31-7, continuing on with their solid play. The Bears ended the day by blanking UC Santa Cruz en route to a 36-0 win.
Following Saturday’s action, Cal concluded the weekend with an anticipated matchup against UCLA. The Bears showed up when they needed to and beat the Bruins 26-0 to continue on with the weekend’s successes. The UCLA match commenced with freshmen Damon Wiley scoring a try and ended with fifth-year senior captain Russell Webb adding the final score.
Though the Bears ended the weekend in impressive fashion versus a very talented UCLA team, there is still plenty to improve upon moving forward, as Cal’s season continues.
“The past year I think we’ve had a very good camp, and it just didn’t really click yesterday or today, so we’re going to go back,” Webb said. “We have film tomorrow and we are going to see if we can right some wrongs for this coming weekend.”
With a solid blend of upperclassmen and frosh-sophs, the team will count upon many of the underclassmen. In each of Saturday’s three games, the starting lineups featured at least seven frosh-sophs, echoing the fact that these young players will be key contributors.
The product of the weekend’s games is that the young Bears can learn and adjust to build upon their early-season experiences in an effort to help sustain Cal’s championship culture.
“We played a lot of young guys in a lot of the teams,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “You know, it’s the first contest of the year, so you can find a way to make some excuses. But I thought, that we should hope to play better than that. We weren’t as good as we could have been, I think, all things considered.”
In 15s, cohesion reigns supreme with the presence of a change in pace, spacing and physicality. The collective team will be counted on to help the Bears continue to improve and strive for even better play as the season progresses.
During Saturday’s three-game slate, 12 different players scored for Cal, showcasing the team’s depth and versatility. These attributes will prove highly valuable and be relied upon as the Bears continue on with 15s play, which has key differences in comparison to 7s play.
“I think the biggest difference (with 15s play) is there is just a lot less space, so there’s more contact and a little bit more pressure on your skills — pass, catch and your ability to recycle the ball,” Clark said.
Cal’s student-athletes will continue to hone their skills through practice paired with time, diligence and studying to ensure the Bears are well prepared to perform up to the program’s standards.
The 4-0 start to the 15s season is something that the Bears can use as a building block and expression of their capabilities. Cal will learn from the weekend’s experience, as the schedule shifts to Berkeley next weekend.
“It’s parents weekend, so we will have a lot of the boys’ families in town,” Clark said. “It will be nice to be home, we have a good opponent coming in with Arizona and then we also play UC Santa Cruz.”
Cal has seven of its next nine matches in Berkeley, where the Bears will be looking to start the homestand on a high note.
Ryan Groves covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].