Putting a young roster out on the field allows a team’s usual starters a game of rest, and that’s what Cal rugby did in the midweek matchup against Cal Maritime on Wednesday night. The game, however, also provided a hopeful vision of the team’s young core.
The Bears went on a small trip to Vallejo and a full freshman-sophomore only squad finished a decent game against the Keelhaulers for a 60-3 victory in their first 80-minute road game in the season.
Cal improved to 6-0 before its first conference game against Arizona State on Saturday while Cal Maritime dropped to 5-2.
Eight different Bears scored 10 tries on the way to 60 points while freshman scrumhalf Jack Gallagher converted five of the 10 conversions. The only points for the Keelhaulers came from a 28-meter penalty kick, ending Cal’s two-game shutout streak.
“I didn’t think that we played to our systems very well,” said head coach Jack Clark. “I was a little bit disappointed in our ability to play to the pattern, our understanding of the pattern, what we do and why we do it; a lot of the game appeared to be just a bit random.”
The Bears have yet to allow any tries on defense as UCLA and Cal Maritime are the only two teams who managed to score three points off of a penalty kick against Cal.
“I think it’s got more to do with the level of the competition, I don’t believe that we demonstrated a ton on the defense,” Clark said. “I think when we have our best team out there, we have players with a little bit better defensive physicality than we had in the past years.”
Sophomore wings Oliver Sharpe and Marcus Shankland ended the Wednesday night matchup with two tries of their own, as Shankland continues his standout offensive performance.
“There’s good athletes on the field and they are going to be good players,” Clark said.
Cal’s future looked good for the future with how the freshmen and sophomores played in the midweek matchup.
On Saturday, Cal will host Arizona State for its first conference game at 1 p.m. at the Witter Rugby Field. The Bears are expected to play their best roster against the Sun Devils, which would probably turn out to be another blowout win for Cal.
Arizona State has only played two games so far, one of which was an important conference win against Utah, 32-27, in its last match on Jan. 26.
“I don’t really have a good sense for Arizona State,” Clark said. “They have a good victory to their credit, I don’t think they have played quite as much as we played yet, but they have a good victory over Utah.”
Last time the Bears and the Sun Devils faced off was in Phoenix almost a year ago on Feb. 19, 2018, when Cal outran Arizona State for a 72-5 win.
The Bears will start a three home game stretch with the Sun Devils, since they will be hosting Cal Poly and British Columbia in the coming weeks.
“One of the things we (would) like to get done is to win a conference championship,” Clark said. “So, you can’t drop conference games.”