The 15-a-side season is finally back at Strawberry Canyon.
Cal rugby started its spring 15s season in Los Angeles last weekend, and the Bears will open the gates to Witter Rugby Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. to face UC Davis.
Last weekend, Cal stormed its competition in the Storer Classic. The games in the tournament were shortened to 40 minutes, but the Bears found enough opportunities to make the games high-scoring.
On the first day of the Storer Classic, the Bears shut out both UC Santa Cruz and the Claremont Colleges with scores of 43-0 and 68-0, respectively. Cal also managed to split the workload on the field, as 15 different players scored the total of 17 tries in two games.
Freshman flanker Jason Severance, sophomore center Adam Roeske and junior scrumhalf Ken Kurihara were the only Bears scoring two tries on the day. Freshmen scrumhalf Jack Gallagher and flyhalf Sam Walsh combined for 13 of 15 conversions. Conversions were a point of concern last season, but the freshmen started off the season on the right foot.
On Sunday, UCLA put up more of a fight against Cal, avoiding a shutout with a penalty kick at the end of the first half of the game. The Bears scored five tries to end the weekend with a 31-3 win before returning to Berkeley for the start of classes. The tries came from junior center Christian Dyer (two), senior hooker/prop Jack Iscaro (two) and freshman hooker Nathan Zylstra. In three matches, the Bears scored 22 tries from 18 different players, displaying the depth and quality Cal has in its roster. Senior flyhalf/fullback Elliot Webb and Walsh converted three out of five conversions to cap off the weekend.
Cal and UC Davis last faced each other in last year’s Storer Classic, where the Bears shut out the Aggies, 54-0.
This time, the teams will be on the field for the whole 80 minutes, and the Cal faithful should expect a high-scoring home opener and a possible shutout.
UC Davis has played six 15-a-side matches so far, dating back to the fall semester. The Aggies currently hold a 4-2 record coming to Strawberry Canyon. Most recently, they defeated Cal Maritime, 43-21, on the road, and the Aggies will be looking for a huge upset this weekend. The Aggies bested Sacramento State, 48-18; UC Santa Cruz, 52-7; and Chico State, 26-10, while losing to Central Washington and Saint Mary’s.
Cal only played 7s games in the fall and ended the 7s with a Pac 7s championship and a perfect record.
Cal finished last year with a 60-5 loss to Life University in the 15s National Collegiate Championship game. After a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season, the Bears will be even hungrier for silverware this season.
Cal lost some important pieces such as No. 8 Thomas Robles and prop Kevin Sullivan, but head coach Jack Clark will have enough talent to put in his system and experience to work on the field for a successful run.
The Cal faithful will just need to wait and see what awaits the Bears this season and whether or not they will be able to bring home the trophy after a deep run in the season.