Cal rugby stays perfect with sweep of Treasure Island event

Lianne Frick /File
Arizona over Cal 31-26 in the Cup final during the 2017 PAC Rugby Sevens Championship at Kino Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. © 2017 Alex Ho ( aho_171112_0755_03 )

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Located on the northwest corner of UC Berkeley, Pat Brown’s is arguably one of the better dining spots on campus. The highlight of Pat Brown’s, however, is the loud “next in line!” that the cashiers shout to lines during the rush hour for lunch, taking the orders and handing out numbered cards again and again.

Even though Cal rugby is located on the opposite corner of campus, the Bears showcased a similar “next-in-line” attitude over the weekend at Treasure Island, handing out losses over and over again to opponents in the team’s second West Coast 7s event of the fall season.

Cal sent a mixed roster consisting of experienced talent and young guns. During the two-day event, the Bears cruised their way to the championship, improving to a perfect 12-0 record in the 7s this fall. The team will host the final event of the fall season — the Pac Rugby 7s Championship — at Witter Rugby Field next month.

The Bears started the tournament fast Saturday with an all-underclassmen team against Central Coast Athletic Club, winning by a score of 31-5. Throughout the rest of the day, upperclassmen and underclassmen joined forces to sweep Pool A by defeating Nevada and USC 54-7 and 33-14, respectively.

Cal scored a total of 18 tries from nine different players, in addition to a strong 77 percent success rate on tries. On the other side of the field, the Bears surrendered four tries for a strong day at the office, reaching the quarterfinal.

“The level of play has just increased over the past two years, and it’s really awesome to see because it raises our game and every other team here,” said junior center Christian Dyer.  “But moving forward, of course, we are excited and we are really happy for our performance, but we know what we need to improve on.”

On Sunday, the Bears spread fear against a conference rival with a shutout against Utah, 36-0. Sophomore wing Marcus Shankland recorded the first hat trick for Cal for the tournament, adding to his two tries in day one.

In the semifinal, Cal squared off with rival Arizona in a nailbiter in which one conversion made the difference after both teams exchanged tries all game long. Dyer scored his second and the Bears’ third try of the match to tie the game with two minutes left on the clock and made the only successful conversion kick to take the lead and eventually win the game for Cal.

The Wildcats were one of two teams to go into the halftime with a tie against the Bears, while the Trojans were the only team to lead against a Cal squad this weekend. Both USC and Arizona may have another chance, depending on the tournament field, to challenge Cal at Pac Rugby 7s next month. As the Cal faithful would remember, the Wildcats got the best of the Bears last year in the overtime of the Pac 7s final in Tucson, Arizona.

“Pac-12 7s is going to be an awesome opportunity for us to perform at home, showcase our skills in front of our home base and, also, just kinda left off in Arizona last year on a salty note,” Dyer said. “This year’s going to be a great opportunity to capitalize on that and really show who we are this year.”

A third matchup between the Bears and the Wildcats this season and a rematch of last year’s final will be highly anticipated during the two-day event Nov. 3-4.

Following the tight win over Arizona, Cal closed things out in the final Sunday, albeit by a slightly wider margin, securing the title with a 19-5 win over UCLA.

“I mean, I think you can tell from the first tournament to here how hard teams are and I can’t even imagine how hard in two weeks, especially with the hype of Pac 7s,” said senior flyhalf/fullback Elliot Webb. “We have to get, start training, start freshing hopefully to do the job.”

Next in line for the Bears? A perfect fall 7s season with a conference championship in front of the home crowd next month.

Can Sariöz covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @can_sarioz.