Newsflash: A Cal sports team is 25-0 and slated for an all-time great season.
Cal’s mens rugby is the blue and gold’s oldest sports program and has produced 17 hall of famers, a standard for excellence that has been displayed in full force. Week in and week out, it feels like deja vu — that is, Cal seemingly breezes by its opposition. Its last three contests saw winning scores of 68-0, 48-19 and 54-21. The Bears’ opponent this past Saturday, however, would prove to be no pushover.
After their 68-0 blowout against Utah, the Pac-12 top seed and undefeated Bears hosted the No. 2 seed Saint Mary Gaels in Witter Rugby Field to wrap up their spring regular season. Needless to say, this was the Bears’ strongest opponent to date in the regular season, making for an excellent matchup that ultimately ended in a 31-24 Cal victory.
This game did not disappoint, as the blue and gold faithful at Witter Rugby Field were treated to a close back-and-forth affair. For the first time this year, the Bears trailed at halftime, with the Gaels jumping to a 19-14 lead. After the two teams exchanged tries, the Bears shut out St. Mary’s as senior Jack Manzo and sophomore Emilio Shea both scored to ultimately clinch a victory — enough to preserve an undefeated regular season and top seed.
The Bears will now get a long rest until April 16, when they will host the West Region National Quarterfinals at home. This will be the Bears’ first step towards potentially winning the National Collegiate 15s Championship, a feat that head coach Jack Clark has accomplished 24 times in the past.
While Clark previously denied that an undefeated season was a goal for this team, achieving this feat has to feel rewarding to this historically great program.