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Bears, Bruins to face off once again

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FEBRUARY 10, 2023

Another week, another chance to dominate. This Saturday, Cal Rugby will host UCLA in the Bears’ second of five straight home games at Witter Rugby Field. For the Bears, who are no strangers to the Bruins, this weekend will also mark the second time that the two programs will square off this season.

Much like in its game week with UCSB to end the month of January, the Bears are only weeks removed from its previous matchup against UCLA. At the Dennis Storer Classic in Westwood, the first opportunity for Cal to roll out its XVs squad, the Bears dominated its final of three games en route to a 45-0 victory over the Bruins. In the six times these two teams have faced off since last year’s Dennis Storer Classic, the Bears have outscored the Bruins 220 to 50.

Though the most recent matchup was a condensed version of the full 80-minute frame to be played Saturday, it gives some insight into the path to success for the Bears this weekend. Cal has been able to control every aspect of its opponents through the first three games, thanks in part to a suffocating defense. The defense, which has been showing out since last year’s VIIs circuit, will be sure to put a hold on the Bruins’ attack.

Cal’s attack has been able to carve through opposing defenses through the first part of the season, accounting for a staggering 263 points in just three full-time games, even scoring over 100 in a win against UCSB.

This game against the Bears could have come at a better time for the Bruins. For UCLA, who are coming into Saturday off of two straight losses, improvements need to come quickly. In their loss to Claremont Mckenna last Saturday, the Bruins managed only one try to the tune of a 7-26 final score.

What is left for the Bruins to leverage against the Cal rugby machine is its familiarity with the Bears. For better or for worse for UCLA, they are the team that has faced Cal the most in recent years.

One could point to UCLA’s relative success against Cal during the VIIs season, including a win over the Bears in 2019, but that would be doing a disservice to the reality of this weekend’s game. Despite a long history, this matchup between instate rivals has been anything but competitive when 30 men are on the field.

For a Cal rugby program that has been spreading playing time like confetti on New Year’s eve, expect this game to be more of the same from the Bears in 2023. Against GCU, Cal were able to cycle in 22 players as well as feature its fourth different starting lineup in as many games.

Cal head coach Jack Clark has expressed the value of giving experience to as much of the roster as possible. But as the final starting XV for the Bears begins to crystallize throughout the month of February, this competition is heating up to be a starter in March and beyond.

This competitive spirit from many Bears should push Cal’s performances well beyond the benchmark of its opponents and lift the team to new heights. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Cal team they are set to play this weekend may be one of the most motivated in recent history.

Cal will kickoff against UCLA this Saturday, 1 p.m. at Witter Rugby Field, watch in Berkeley or on pac12.com

Contact Ryan Sheehan at 


FEBRUARY 10, 2023