If any other team had the game against UC Davis that Cal rugby had (136-0 in favor of the Bears), a few days of relaxation and relishing a job well done might be expected. But it’s hard to imagine that Cal rugby will be doing much slacking off under head coach Jack Clark’s reign.
A tradition of dominance is what the Cal faithful are used to seeing with Cal rugby, and last week’s 22-try shutout that brought the Bears a completely comfortable win against Davis is a reason to wait for more from Cal.
“We made some progress in putting in some new wrinkles to our attack — things that we should have put in last week, but we just tried to give the guys less to think about,” Clark said. “Over these next few weeks, we’ve got to continue to build our approach so that we become an increasingly more sophisticated team.”
On Saturday, the Bears will host San Diego State for Parents Weekend at 1 p.m. Considering both the Aztecs’ skill level and possibly inclement weather, Cal fans might see a slightly more balanced game on the field as compared to last weekend.
San Diego State (0-2) and Cal (4-0) last faced each other last season in San Diego. After the first 40 minutes, the Aztecs kept the Bears at arm’s length as Cal’s lead was only nine at 19-10. The second half had a whole different story, however, as the Bears scored 11 unanswered points for a dominant 85-10 win.
So far this season, Cal has managed to record three shutouts in four games and has not allowed any tries scored. Only UCLA managed to score 3 points out of a penalty kick against the Bears.
Even though the Aztecs have lost both of their games this season, they faced very tough competition against St. Mary’s and Arizona. The Gael’s will be one of the tougher matchups the Bears will face this season on March 30 at home for Cal’s last regular season match. Arizona, on the other hand, is a respectable conference opponent for Cal, and the Bears will host the Wildcats on March 23, the week before St. Mary’s.
Saturday’s matchup will be followed by a reserve-grade match between the two sides, and Clark will have the chance to see multiple Bears perform as he builds the best 15 that can take Cal to a championship.
“In order to play against the teams bigger and stronger than us, we are going to have to have a bit of a plan, a capability of doing more,” Clark said. “We did put in a handful of things, and that one kind of went OK with the top guys — it’s a lot to ask some of the reserves sometimes, so we haven’t had the best couple of training sessions.
The weather forecast shows rain at game time, and that will pose an extra challenge for the Bears in handling the ball. Pass completion, ball protection and turnovers have been a point of emphasis for Cal dating back to last season, and this Saturday will provide an early test for the Bears.
“We don’t need rain for us to mishandle the ball; we mishandle the ball in perfect conditions sometimes — it’s just our focus,” Clark said. “I’m having far less tolerance for sloppy ball handling this year, but our hands are a little bit tied — it’s sometimes two or three guys at the same position, and all of them are a bit sloppy.”