2016VCBracket728x90

Team News

Cal Rugby Bests Navy, Sets Up Title Clash With BYU

Cal Rugby Bests Navy, Sets Up Title Clash With BYU

BERKELEY – Led by four tries by captain Seamus Kelly, California defeated the United States Naval Academy, 74-6, in the Varsity Cup National Championships Semifinals Saturday on Witter Rugby Field in the final home game for the Golden Bears’ graduating seniors. Cal will face BYU Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. MT for the national championship.

A capacity crowd enjoyed the pageantry of a sparkling afternoon in Strawberry Canyon as the Bears got 12 tries from eight players in total, including pairs from flankers Alec Gletzer and Jack O’Beirne. Freshman Harry Adolphus contributed a try in his start at fullback and added five conversions (5-for-5) after taking over those duties from Jake Anderson (2-of-7) in the second half.

Navy, which scored its points on two penalty kicks by second-year flyhalf Jack McAuliffe (2-for-3), ends its season at 9-2 overall (7-0 Atlantic Coast), while the Bears displayed a commitment to defense that matched their offensive output and earned the team a trip to the title game next Saturday with an overall record of 21-0 (5-0 PAC).

Cal passed the test Saturday with a rejiggered young backline that stood tall against the disciplined Midshipmen. Sophomore Nicklas Boyer, who faced off against Navy No. 9 Broderick Neelfeller, spun the ball out to Anderson in his first start at flyhalf, where he went opposite the dangerous McAuliffe. Cal’s fullback responsibilities transferred to Adolphus while sophomore Jesse Milne made his first start at inside center. Sophomore Andrew Battaglia at one wing made it a predominantly frosh-soph set of backs for the Bears.

Along with these young players were some old stalwarts in blue and gold making their last appearances as players on Witter Rugby Field. Playing their final home matches on Saturday were hooker Grant Hyjer, tighthead prop J.P. Hurrell and locks Danny Barrett and Brendan Daly, who were joined by Lyall Davenport came when he replaced Hurrell and Tyler Fach when he came in for Barrett.

Said Barrett, who received a big ovation to culminate his family’s last home match after nine years as Rugby Bears combined with his brothers, Jim and Neill, “It’s kind of sad leaving Witter Rugby Field for the last time as a player, but it’s been such a cool thing to have been a part of this program here with my brothers. We’re going to give it all we’ve got against BYU and it’s going to be a great game.”

“After four years out year, it felt really exciting to put in a good body of work today,” added Daly. “It was excitement not only for the guys graduating, but the whole team supporting us as well.” He called the Cal-BYU matchup next week “something I’ve always wanted to play my entire career.”

Adolphus said he could feel the gravity of Saturday’s finale for Cal’s graduating seniors and wanted to deliver a good performance for them. “All the guys leaving have been fantastic to play with and it was important personally to play well for them. There’s no shortage of respect for Navy either.”

“We have nothing but respect and admiration for the Naval Academy team,” concurred Cal head coach Jack Clark.

The Middies took an early 3-0 lead in the third minute when McAuliffe connected from 15 meters following a Cal penalty, but Kelly’s first try gave the Bears a lead they would never relinquish. O’Beirne scored his first try and, after the Navy’s flyhalf connected on his second kick to make it a 12-6 ballgame, the Bears went on a 65-0 scoring tear to run away with the semifinal.

“We know what they do, but we weren’t prepared for them to do it quite as well as they did,” said Navy head coach Mike Flanagan. “We worked really hard to play or scheme and our style, but Cal did a great job defensively and that’s the tale of the tape right there.”

Outside center Nick Hancock, who also played his final collegiate match on Saturday, said, “We’re obviously very frustrated but the level of respect between these two teams is really high.”

The Bears have now earned the opportunity to play BYU in the final for the seventh time in the past eight years. Cal has won five of those six previous meetings. This year, the final takes place at South Field on the BYU campus, where the Cougars have never lost a match.

Coach Flanagan added that the Varsity Cup National Championships has proved to be the premier showcase for collegiate rugby. “We want to grow the game,” Flanagan said. “This is the competition and these are the young men who are going to do it.”

The Scoring Timeline vs. Navy:

03:00 Navy (Jack McAuliffe) 3
07:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Jake Anderson 2
17:00 Jack O’Beirne 5
20:00 Navy (Jack McAuliffe) 3
24:00 Seamus Kelly 5
31:00 Harry Adolphus 5
33:00 Alec Gletzer 5
38:00 Brendan Daly 5, Jake Anderson 2
Halftime Score: California 34, Navy 6
45:00 Danny Barrett 5
48:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Harry Adolphus 2
53:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Harry Adolphus 2
60:00 Jack O’Beirne 5, Harry Adolphus 2
67:00 Nicklas Boyer 5, Harry Adolphus 2
80:00 Alec Gletzer 5, Harry Adolphus 2
Final Score: California 74, Navy 6

The Team vs. Navy:

15. Adolphus (Coquillard @ 50:00), 14. Tucker, 13. Kelly ©, 12. Milne, 11.
Battaglia, 10. Anderson (Adolphus @ 50:00), 9. Boyer (Dunne @ 79:00), 1.
Mohr, 2. Hyjer (O’Beirne @ 63:00, Walsh @ 77:00), 3. Hurrell (Davenport @
55:00), 4. Barrett (Fach @ 75:00), 5. Daly (Hendrickson @ 70:00), 6.
O’Beirne (Bush @ 63:00), 7. Gletzer, 8. De Nysschen

BYU Into National Title Match With Win Over CWU

BYU Into National Title Match With Win Over CWU

Provo, UT–The BYU Cougars advanced to their 8th straight National Championship game today by beating the Central Washington Wildcats 53-20 on South Field in the semifinals of the Varsity Cup.

BYU had to overcome an early deficit after falling behind by eight points 15-7 in the 22nd minute of the first half.

But 46 unanswered points over the next 50 minutes of the game gave the Cougars the victory.

BYU started the scoring first with junior fullback Will Taylor dotting down in the 6th minute following a junior center Seki Kofe’s midfield linebreak. Freshman flyhalf Jonny Linehan would convert and the Cougars led 7-0.

CWU would respond in kind with a driving maul from 5 meters out that led to lock Sean Wanigasekera’s opening Wildcat try in the 11th minute.

Another series of possession exchanges and a BYU penalty would lead to CWU fullback Alex Reher’s penalty kick 15th minute and a CWU lead of 8-7.

Some errors by both sides followed until CWU flyhalf Max Nawerski split the BYU defense in the midfield that eventually led to Wildcat wing Josh Bower scoring from long distance in the 22nd minute.

A wide angle conversion by CWU’s Reher would push the Wildcats’ lead to 15-7 giving the CWU sideline plenty to cheer about.

The Cougars weren’t deterred however by CWU’s early lead.

“They’re [CWU] a good team,” said BYU captain Ryan Roundy, “We knew they were going to come at us hard and in all credit to them they really had us on the ropes there. But I knew our guys had it in them and it was just about getting back to the basics and playing our game.”

The Cougars did just that and used their game to get back into the game with tries from junior winger Chris Wernli and junior hooker Ishmael Tilialo in the 30th and 37th minutes respectively.

At the break the Cougars would edge back into the lead 19-15; a lead which BYU wouldn’t relinquish.

“BYU is a quality program and we knew that coming into this match,” said CWU head coach Tony Pacheco,”We knew we needed to play without mental mistakes and we did that for 40 minutes. We played the first half extremely well at a level where we needed to be. In the second half, we had some momentum opportunities but we didn’t quite seize them. Hats off to BYU for putting it together and coming through some adversity in the first half.”

The second half started with CWU pressuring close to the BYU goal line, when senior prop Ray Forrester poached the Wildcats’ ball in the 43rd minute.

The ball was passed wide through the BYU backline to Wernli who raced past the CWU defense 50 meters to finish the 90 meter-plus long try.

“That was a big play,” said BYU assistant coach Justen Nadauld, “That could have dramatically changed how the course of the second half went had they been able to score. It really put the momentum in our direction and we were able to build on it.”

BYU freshman scrum half Luke Mocke was next to score for the Cougars in the 51st minute after a deft chip and chase close to the sideline gave the young halfback his first try of the game.

Another try for the Cougars from Kofe in the 53rd minute was followed by a Linehan penalty that would push the BYU lead out to 41-15.

Mocke would squirm his way for another short-range try in the 65th minute, which was followed by a final BYU try from Roundy in the 75th minute.

A late try from CWU in the 78th minute by replacement wing Shelby Williams would round out the final score in favor of the Cougars 53-20.

“I thought CWU played very well in the first half,” said BYU head coach David Smyth, “They really had us on the back foot for long periods of time. They were able to disrupt our set pieces as well. But when we were able to maintain possession and set a better platform from which to release our backs, I thought we were pretty dangerous and did some nice things.”

The Cougars now move on to the Varsity Cup National Championship game next Saturday, May 4th at 1pm which is set to be hosted at BYU South Field Stadium.

BYU will face a familiar foe in the title match as perennial champion California beat the Navy Midshipmen today in Berkeley by the score of 74-6.

Of the eight straight championship bouts the Cougars have played in seven of them have come against the Golden Bears from Cal.

BYU and Cal last met in 2011 in the National Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium with the Bears coming up victors 21-14 in a hotly contested affair.

Saturday’s title tilt between the Bears and the Cougars will be a series of firsts with BYU hosting the National Championship for the first time in the history of the program, while also being the first time the Bears have traveled to Provo in postseason play.

Tickets for Saturday’s championship clash are available for advance purchase at BYUTickets.com.

For more information as the Cougars prepare for the May 4th Varsity Cup National Championship follow the Cougars on Facebook and Twitter.

MATCH SUMMARY: BYU vs. CWU–April 27, 2013
BYU 1st XV

  1. David Collins (David Williams 48′)
  2. Ishmael Tilialo (Scott Gowdy 45′)
  3. Ray Forrester
  4. TJ Allred
  5. Kyle Sumsion
  6. Dan Hubert (Braden Bair 56′)
  7. Kody Thompson (Jeff Ott 73′)
  8. Ryan Roundy (c)
  9. Luke Mocke (Inoke Funaki 75′)
  10. Jonny Linehan (Lelann Latu 70′)
  11. Jordan Lowry
  12. Seki Kofe (Andrew Carver 70′)
  13. Paul Lasike
  14. Chris Wernli
  15. Will Taylor

CWU 1st XV

  1. Korbin Lindell
  2. Jacob Bates
  3. Clint Lemkus
  4. Tyler Coffman
  5. Sean Wanigasekera
  6. Patrick Blair
  7. Aladdin Schirmer
  8. Ryan Snider
  9. Andrew Nelson
  10. Max Narewski
  11. Josh Bower
  12. Zach Siemens
  13. Tanner Barnes
  14. Beau Nichols
  15. Alex Reher

SCORING:
BYU: 53
TRIES: Taylor 6′; Wernli 30′, 44′; Tilialo 37′; Mocke 51′, 65′; Kofe 53′; Roundy 75′
CONVERSIONS: Linehan 5/7; Lasike 0/1
PENALTIES: Linehan 1/2 (56′)

CWU: 8
TRIES: Wanigasekera 11′; Bower 22′
CONVERSIONS: Reher 1/2
PENALTIES: Reher 1/1 (15′)

Cal Hosts Navy in Saturday Semi of Varsity Cup National Championships

Cal Hosts Navy in Saturday Semi of Varsity Cup National Championships

BERKELEY – California (20-0, 5-0 PAC) hosts Navy (9-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast) in the Varsity Cup National Championships semifinal at 2 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 27, when Cal students, youth under 12 and all military personnel with ID will be admitted free to Witter Rugby Field to see the Golden Bears and Midshipmen compete for a slot at the May 4 final. Gates open at 1 p.m.

Both teams are coming off shutout wins at the Varsity Cup Eastern Super Regional on April 20 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md., where the Bears defeated Notre Dame and the Midshipmen dispatched Dartmouth.

Navy has 10 final-four appearances in the national collegiate championships since 1980, including a runner-up finish to Cal at the 1994 national collegiate championship, a 27-13 victory for the Bears. Since
2000 the Midshipmen have advanced to the national collegiate postseason 10 times.

Once again a formidable team led by longtime coach Mike Flanagan and captained by All-America senior Seamus Siefring, Navy hopes to get over the top with its first-ever win over the Bears this weekend. Cal is 33-1 all-time against all the U.S. military academies combined, its only loss coming against Air Force at the 2003 national collegiate semifinals.

The postseason history between Cal and Navy dates back most recently to May 4, 2007, when the Bears beat the Midshipmen, 63-31, in the national collegiate semifinals. Cal also came out on top in their next and most recent meeting in 15s, at the 2009 San Diego Invitational, where Cal beat Navy, 54-7.

Both teams have completely turned over their rosters since those meetings and have only competed recently against each other in the Olympic 7s code of the game. Cal has also had success there, beating the Midshipmen twice in 2012, at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s in June and in the September final of the Buckeye 7s.

An intriguing matchup is sure to play out on Saturday at halfback and flyhalf, with Cal’s young tandem of sophomore scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer and freshman Harry Adolphus facing off against Ricky Neel-Feeler and Jack McAuliffe, both of whom made major impacts in the Middies’ Super Regional victory.

“This is in many ways a typical Naval Academy team, a bunch of tough, athletic, competitive guys,” said Bears head coach Jack Clark. “What is somewhat unique in this version of academy rugby is the quality of their halfbacks. I thought they were the best combination at the regional. They are both gifted athletes and exceptional rugby playmakers.”

While the Bears were certainly pleased to advance against the Irish in Annapolis, they also know they’ll need a better effort to defeat a very well put together Navy team. Also on Saturday, BYU hosts Central Washington in the other semifinal starting at 1 p.m. MT/12 p.m. PT. The winners of these matches will meet May 4 in Provo, Utah, for the Varsity Cup National Championship.

BYU Hosts Varsity Cup National Championship Semifinal Saturday

BYU Hosts Varsity Cup National Championship Semifinal Saturday

Provo, UT–The defending National Champion BYU rugby team is set to play host to the Central Washington University Wildcats in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championship semifinals this Saturday, April 27th at 1pm MT on South Field.

The Cougars and Wildcats are familiar foes with a recent meeting in 2012 where BYU prevailed 76-7. But BYU head coach David Smyth knows this week’s match-up will be a dramatically different affair with CWU.

“CWU is a top-flight team,” Smyth said, “They have some very exciting playmakers and are very hard to defend in the open field. And after seeing some of their film from this year its clear that they’re not the same team from last year.”

CWU advanced to this weekend’s semifinal after beating a strong Air Force Academy team last week at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional by the score of 81-28.

And with a 10-1 record on the 2013 season the Wildcats are setting to do something that hasn’t been in Provo by a collegiate team since 2006 and that’s beat the BYU Cougars.

“We have a big challenge ahead on Saturday,” said CWU head coach Tony Pacheco,”The Cougars have an impressive combination of size and speed. We have had a great week of training and are excited for the semi final. South Field is one of the great venues for rugby in America with one of the best home crowds.”

BYU earned the right to host this weekend’s semifinal after beating UCLA at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional 69-8 last Saturday.

The Cougars sit at 10-2 on the 2013 season with a 10-0 record against collegiate competition.

Despite being the #1 overall seed in the Varsity Cup National Championship and being the defending National Collegiate Champions, BYU captain Ryan Roundy knows that the Cougars will have to be on their best if they hope to keep South Field’s collegiate unbeaten streak alive.

“This is a big game no doubt about it,” Roundy said, “We always expect to play well at home in front of our fans. And we’ll have to really be on top of all the little things if we want to make sure we do that and advance to the championship.”

Saturday’s semifinal post-season match-up is the Cougars’ 9th straight semifinal appearance. Despite the near decade of post-season performance Saturday’s semifinal will be the first semifinal hosted on South Field.

“We’re very excited about Saturday,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti, “It doesn’t happen very often that you get to host a semifinal like this, but potentially play in the first ever National Championship game hosted on South Field.”

A win on Saturday would put the Cougars playing in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship which is set for May 4th at 1pm MT on BYU’s South Field. As Tarawhiti notes the Varsity Cup National Championship game will also be the first such game slated for the Cougars’ home field.

A possible BYU win will see them face the winner of the other Varsity Cup semifinal, which sees perennial national champion California hosting Navy in Berkeley, CA April 27th at 2pm PT.

The BYU vs. CWU semifinal match will be broadcast on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube Channel and through Deseret Media’s KSL.com and DesNews.com streaming platforms giving local, but also national and international fans the chance to see the Cougars and Wildcats’ Varsity Cup clash.

Tickets for Saturday’s match can be bought at the gate for $10 for general admission and $5 for students and youth 18 and under.

For more information on the Cougars as they prepare for the CWU Wildcats follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Second Half Surge Sees Cal Come From Behind to Beat Rival St. Mary’s

Second Half Surge Sees Cal Come From Behind to Beat Rival St. Mary’s

BERKELEY – Faced with a 15-point halftime deficit against a fiery Saint Mary’s squad, the Golden Bears went on 21-point run and beat the Gaels, 42-31, Saturday on Witter Rugby Field. On a brilliant afternoon in Strawberry Canyon, a capacity crowd witnessed a bona fide barnburner in which California finished its regular season at 19-0 and SMC fell to 11-2 with its first collegiate loss of the spring.

Cal found the fortitude to overcome a difficult first half that left them trailing without two starters, inside center Jared Braun and flyhalf Russell Webb, who were injured in the first 40 minutes. Webb was replaced by another freshman in Harry Adolphus, who helped propel the Bears forward with his hands and feet, and Braun was replaced by sophomore Eakalafi Okusi, whose try in the 65th minute proved to be the gamewinner.

Fullback Jake Anderson got off to an unlucky start as his first placekicking attempt, a 30-meter penalty kick that caromed no good off both uprights, but he went on to put in another very valuable performance, connecting on his next three penalties and 4-of-5 conversions, including two back-to-back from along the left touchline, to bolster the Bears’ momentum during the decisive second stanza.

“Coach told us after the game to be proud of what we did. It’s not easy for any team to come back from that deficit and the fact we did says a lot about this squad,” Anderson said. Working with the first-year Adolphus on the heels of Webb’s injury, Anderson said, “I was really impressed with Harry’s performance today. The way he came in and played was remarkable.”

The match was tied twice in its early stages, with Anderson and Gaels flyhalf Garrett Brewer trading kicks to knot the contest at 3-3 and 6-6. Brewer’s third penalty got Saint Mary’s in front at 9-6, followed by a try from SMC winger Cooper Maloney that Brewer converted. When Gaels prop Jordan Bouey went into the try zone late in the first half, Brewer’s conversion was wide but the visitors went into the break leading, 21-6.

“We left a couple of easy tries unscored in the first half and I didn’t think we played as error free as we are capable in the first 40,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark.

For the third straight match, Cal made halftime adjustments that made dominant differences. Captain Seamus Kelly broke into SMC territory soon after play resumed and offloaded to Brendan Daly, who passed it to sophomore scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer for the Bears’ first try of the afternoon.

Five minutes later, No. 8 Tiaan De Nysschen picked up the ball from the base of a scrum 20 meters out and raced in between the posts, giving Anderson his only easy conversion, which trimmed the Saint Mary’s lead to 21-20.

“After some unforced errors, we settled down at halftime,” De Nysschen said. “The big thing was, everybody felt confident that we were going to win this game. We were down 15 points but our confidence didn’t lack at all.”

“Had we leaked a try early in the second half it would have been hard to chase this game down, but the team understood we had to win the first 15 minutes of the second half,” said coach Clark. “And they did just that.”

With the raucous crowd see-sawing back and forth in support of both teams, the Bears managed the ball well, recycling a four-phase sequence that ended with lock Danny Barrett scoring in the left corner for the lead. Anderson’s difficult conversion from the sideline brought the crowd back to its feet.

The Gaels threatened to retake the lead seven minutes later when prop Nick Wallace scored a try, but Brewer’s conversion was no good, leaving the Bears up, 27-26. After Okusi’s try, Josh Tucker touched one down and Anderson stroked his third three-pointer before Wallace added his second try of the match for the visitors, but that proved to the Saint’s Mary’s last stand, as Cal refused to allow SMC anything further.

“They were relentless in the second half,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Tim O’Brien.

Flanker Alec Gletzer was deservedly mobbed by fans after the match in appreciation of his performance. The junior’s defensive stops included one of Cal’s two goal-line stands to hold the ball up in goal, and his numerous hustle plays secured 50-50 balls on the ground and in the air, several of which he advanced deep into Gaels territory.

“They’re a really talented team but we had to pick it up and follow our game plan,” said Gletzer. “The fans were behind us 100 percent and that added to our full-team effort.”

In the reserve-grade contest following the First XV, Cal defeated Saint Mary’s 56-12.

Cal will now prepare to compete in the postseason Varsity Cup national championship, in which the Bears face Notre Dame in an April 20 super-regional showdown at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The higher-seeded winner between that outcome and that of the Navy-Dartmouth super-regional will host a semifinal April 27, giving Cal and its fans one more possible home game in the postseason followed by the national championship on May 4 in Provo, Utah.

Coach Clark added that today’s win was important for his team and the entire eight-team field of the Varsity Cup: “With these two teams heading to different postseasons, it was additionally important that we win for the Varsity Cup Championship teams. Our focus now changes to Annapolis and our quarterfinal with Notre Dame, and we wish the Gaels the best as they finish out.”

After the Varsity Cup, Cal will travel to the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

The Scoring Timeline vs. Saint Mary’s:

03:00 Jake Anderson 3
06:00 SMC (Garrett Brewer) 3
09:00 Jake Anderson 3
11:00 SMC (Garrett Brewer) 3
29:00 SMC (Garrett Brewer) 3
34:00 SMC (Cooper Maloney) 5, (Garrett Brewer) 2
38:00 SMC (Jordan Bouey) 5

Halftime Score: California 21, Saint Mary’s 6

42:00 Nicklas Boyer 5, Jake Anderson 2
47:00 Tiaan De Nysschen 5, Jake Anderson 2
53:00 Danny Barrett 5, Jake Anderson 2
60:00 SMC (Nick Wallace) 5
65:00 Eakalafi Okusi 5, Jake Anderson 2
67:00 Josh Tucker 5
70:00 Jake Anderson 3
76:00 SMC (Nick Wallace) 5
Final Score: California 42, Saint Mary’s 31

Cal 1st XV vs. Saint Mary’s:
15. Anderson, 14. Tucker, 13. Kelly ©, 12. Braun (Okusi @ 30:00), 11.
Battaglia, 10. Webb (Adolphus @ 40:00), 9. Boyer, 1. Mohr, 2. Hyjer, 3.
Hurrell (Davenport @ 21:00, Hurrell @ 31:00, Davenport @ 77:00), 4.
Barrett, 5. Daly (Purdy @ 45:00), 6. O’Beirne, 7. Gletzer, 8. De Nysschen

Major Rivalry Renewed as Cal Hosts St. Mary’s on Saturday

Major Rivalry Renewed as Cal Hosts St. Mary’s on Saturday

BERKELEY – The final regular-season home match for the Golden Bears on Witter Rugby Field takes place Saturday, April 13, when Saint Mary’s College visits for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

California enters the match at 18-0 overall, having most recently taken the PAC Rugby Conference title with its 51-29 win over Utah on March 30.

The Gaels are 11-1 overall and undefeated against collegiate competition, most recently logging a 50-20 win against Central Washington April 6 in Ellensburg, Wash. SMC has also beaten Penn State, 59-10, at home and Cal Poly, 42-31, on the road this season.

In the last meeting between Cal and St. Mary’s, on April 15, 2012, in Moraga, the Gaels defeated the Bears, 20-18, for the first time since 1988. Flyhalf Augie Heath connected on a 30-meter penalty kicked in the 76th minute on Pat Vincent Field for the winning margin.

Cal gets a chance to play the Gaels again Saturday to finish its spring
2013 regular-season home slate, which followed a two-year period during which Witter Rugby Field was unavailable to host rugby during the renovation of Memorial Stadium.

One week after Saturday’s match vs. SMC, Cal travels to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where the Bears face Notre Dame in the April 20 Varsity Cup Super Regional in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The higher-seeded winner between that outcome and that of the Navy-Dartmouth Eastern Super Regional will host an April 27 semifinal, which could offer Cal fans one more home game to see the Rugby Bears and say goodbye to final-year players. The Varsity Cup championship takes place on May 4 in Provo, Utah.

After the Varsity Cup, Cal will travel to the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

Central Washington Accepts Varsity Cup Invitation

Central Washington Accepts Varsity Cup Invitation

Provo, UT—The Varsity Cup announced today that Central Washington University (CWU) has been selected to participate in the 2013 Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship.

CWU comes into the Varsity Cup after the forced departure of the University of Utah following a recent administrative suspension of the Utah rugby program.

The Wildcats immediately join the Varsity Cup this postseason with an on-going participation commitment through the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

As an NCAA member institution Central Washington University is led by current head coach Tony Pacheco, who concurrently serves as the USA Rugby Collegiate All American 7’s head coach.

CWU boasts an 8-0 regular season record in 2012-13 and a #5 national ranking in the USA Rugby D1-A poll.

The Wildcats also field one of the country’s top 7’s squads with CWU being 2012 Collegiate 7’s Runners-Up and a spate of recent 7’s rugby tournaments victories over the last year, including an appearance in February’s acclaimed USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational where CWU advanced to the Cup Championship only to fall to a strong University of Victoria 7’s team.

CWU’s Director of Rugby Bob Ford says the invitation to join the Varsity Cup Championship was an opportunity his program couldn’t afford to pass up.

“The competition structure is something that will provide consistency to our program,” Ford said,”And will provide our players with access to a high level of rugby on a regular basis. This is an opportunity we did not see on our immediate horizon and one that required careful consideration in a compressed timeline. We look forward to the competition the Varsity Cup provides and are excited about promoting the growth of rugby.”

The decision to invite the CWU Wildcats into the inaugural Varsity Cup came after timely but careful consideration with the participating Varsity Cup universities’ administrators and coaching staffs.

“We had significant interest from a number of programs,” said BYU’s David Smyth, “In the end, all of the Varsity Cup universities were unanimous that inviting Central Washington was the best course. We’re pleased to have a team of the caliber of the Wildcats join the Varsity Cup Championship.”

CWU will slot into the vacated #4 seed and meet the Air Force Academy in the Western Super-Regional hosted on the campus of UCLA.

Kick-off for the AFA vs. CWU match is set for 2pm PT on Saturday, April 20th. Meanwhile the hosts will take on 2012 National Collegiate Rugby Champion BYU in the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional concluding match at 4pm.

The inclusion of CWU doesn’t affect the Eastern Super-Regional as 2011 National Collegiate Rugby Champion California takes on Notre Dame and Navy meets Dartmouth.

Both Eastern Super-Regional matches are also scheduled for April 20th and are set to be played at 1.30pm ET and 3.30pm ET respectively inside the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

For more news and information on the Varsity Cup and the participating teams, please go to VarsityCup.US or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

ABOUT THE VARSITY CUP: The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features eight of the most recognized and accomplished collegiate rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Champion.

The eight Varsity Cup teams are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, the University of California, Dartmouth College, the U.S. Naval Academy, Notre Dame, the University of California, Los Angeles and Central Washington University. In the 33 years of the collegiate rugby championship play 31 of the collegiate national champions have come from one of the eight Varsity Cup teams. In total, a Varsity Cup program has played for the collegiate title in every year of the championship’s existence except for 1984.

The eight Varsity Cup programs also boast hundreds of Collegiate All Americans and scores of USA National Team members making the Varsity Cup a veritable proving ground of American rugby. With the country’s best high-performance training facilities, state of the art match venues and strong coaching experience, the eight Varsity Cup programs set the standard for elite player development in America.

Match Recap: Notre Dame Beats Ohio State

Match Recap: Notre Dame Beats Ohio State

South Bend, IN–On a cool and drizzling Easter weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish traveled to the Southside of Chicago to compete against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a showcase at Brother Rice High School.

The Buckeyes entered the contest at 0-2 and were looking for their first victory over their Midwest rivals, who were coming off a tough loss to Davenport University and who were 1-2 on the season.

Ohio State came out strong early, dominating possession in the early goings of the game. The controlled the ball with tight forward play for the first 15 minutes of the game. But a costly mistake by the Buckeyes turned the ball over to the Irish. Notre Dame capitalized on their first play from scrimmage as David Penberthy squeaked through the Buckeye defense and found wing Dom Corsaro on the outside. Corsaro was tackled just short of the goal line, but the Irish forwards rumbled and dotted the ball over the line for the game’s first score.

From here the Irish used the favorable wind conditions to their advantage to pin the Buckeyes deep in their own half of the field. The forwards showed their prowess with their impressive lineouts and subsequent mauls which moved the ball down the field for the Irish. The ball was moved out and found crashing center Ryan Robinson, who added 5 for the Irish. Robert Manfreda added the conversion for a 12-0 lead.

The next break, by outside center Ryan Mitchell, came off of a lineout when he broke to the center of the field, where he offloaded to Penberthy who touched it down between the posts. Manfreda with the conversion made it 19-0.

The first points for the Buckeyes came after the Irish made some crucial mistakes and gave up yards due to a multitude of penalties. The Buckeyes were able to march down the field and received a penalty just inside the 22 directly in the center of the field. The Buckeye flyhalf slotted the kick and put them on the board for the first time. The score was 19-3 about midway through the first half.

The Buckeyes struggled to get through the staunch Irish defense in the first half, and the Irish continued to ramp up the pressure, forcing the Buckeyes into mistakes. One of those mistakes yielded another 7 points for the Irish as Manfreda caught the overthrown pass on a lineout and ran it the 10 meters to the tryzone. He converted his own try to put the Irish up 26-3, a score that held until halftime.

Immediately following the halftime restart, the Irish continued to attack and put pressure on the Buckeyes. This time great hands and quick ball movement found 8-man Tom Hickey on the outside who shrugged off a couple of would-be tacklers and took it the length of the field to extend the Irish lead. Manfreda slotted the conversion to make it 33-3.

The Irish would continue to press on in attack, however as the wind speed began to pick up, Ohio State began to utilize it to their advantage. Their ability to pin the Irish deep in their own 22, coupled with Irish mistakes around the contact area with mishandled ball and sloppy passes, allowed the Buckeyes to score their first try. The Irish were unable to recover and clear the ball effectively and Ohio State continued to take advantage of their stellar starting field position. They mashed the ball down the field with their forwards and found a number of small holes in the Irish defense. While the effort was there for the Buckeyes, they were unable to make up the large deficit that they had accrued in the first half. They fell short of the mark to the Irish by a score of 38-27 after a final score for ND by Rich Kessler.

The Irish improve to 2-2 and will face a young Wheeling Jesuit squad next weekend in South Bend.

Much thanks to the Ohio State squad for traveling all the way to Chicago for the game, as well as thanks to David Fee and the Brother Rice High School for being such gracious and welcoming hosts to us.

18-0 Cal Takes PAC With 51-29 Win Over Utah Bears Beat Utes at Homecoming

18-0 Cal Takes PAC With 51-29 Win Over Utah Bears Beat Utes at Homecoming

BERKELEY – In its first Homecoming on Witter Rugby Field since 2010, top-ranked California put in a controlled performance and scored seven tries to defeat Utah, 51-24, Saturday afternoon in front of a large crowd despite Spring Break for Cal students, clinching the inaugural PAC Rugby Conference title.

For the second straight week, the Bears combined a tenacious 80-minute defensive performance with a 29-point second half to help seal the deal.
Cal’s tries were scored by seven different Golden Bears, including fullback Jake Anderson, who added five conversions (5-for-7) and two penalties (2-for-2) for 21 points scored.

Utah No. 8 John Cullen was the Utes’ high-scorer with 10 points on two tries, but by the time he scored his second, the clock showed zeroes and the match was well out of reach.

“Our game plan was to retain possession but Cal takes advantage of every mistake,” said the Utes’ Assistant Coach for Attack, Jon Law. “They really started tackling us behind the gainline and it was that first five minutes after halftime that seemed to dictate the rest of the game.”

Anderson opened the scoring with a 20-meter penalty in the fourth minute, then converted Cal’s first try from Seamus Kelly, who found a channel through the Utah defense three minutes later.

Sophomore scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer held his own with the opposite No. 9, the dangerous Don Pati, working the ball out to the backline and back inside to his forwards, and keeping it when the occasion called, including a try for his efforts in the 67th minute. Fellow sophomores Michael Bush and Lucas Dunne received rare starts, with Bush scoring a try with his 35-meter sprint after poaching the ball behind a Utah scrum in the first half.

“Playing against Pati was pretty big for me,” said Boyer. “Winning the first PAC Rugby championship is a big honor for this team.”

Utah was able to close the deficit to 22-17 at the break following Curtis Shon’s try, but Anderson slotted his second penalty just two minutes after play resumed, followed by sophomore Andrew Battaglia’s try two minutes after that. Danny Barrett, who was held out until the second half as a replacement, added a try as the Bears shut down the Utes offense for most of the second half.

The Bears’ final try was scored by freshman flyhalf Russell Webb, who took a pass from Dunne after his burst downfield and grubbed the ball into the try zone, where he touched it down.

Saturday was also a high-school reunion for both captains, Cal outside center Seamus Kelly and Utah flanker Mike Juszczak, teammates at Xavier High School in New York City whose former team also enjoyed the contest from the bleachers during their spring tour of Northern California.

“It’s something special to play in front of this crowd with my high school here today,” said Kelly. “Utah has a talented group and I’m happy we could get this win in front of our fans.”

Cal improves to 18-0 overall and finishes 5-0 in the PAC Rugby Conference, while Utah falls to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in the PAC.

“We wish Utah the best going forward and we’re pleased to win the conference championship for our University,” said Bears head coach Jack Clark. “We look forward to the bye week to get prepared for the Gaels.”

Homecoming marked one of the last opportunities for fans to enjoy a home match in Strawberry Canyon during the spring 2013 season. The Bears will host Saint Mary’s in the resumption of that local rivalry to end the regular season on Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m.

Cal’s will compete in the postseason at the Varsity Cup, in which the Bears face Notre Dame in an April 20 super-regional showdown at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The higher-seeded winner between that outcome and that of the Navy-Dartmouth super-regional will host a semifinal April 27, giving Cal and its fans one more possible home game in the postseason followed by the championship on May 4 in Provo, Utah.

After the Varsity Cup, Cal will travel to the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

PAC Rugby Conference Schedule

Date                 Matchup/Result                                     Location

Feb. 2           California 104, Arizona State 0          Berkeley, CA

Feb. 9            Utah 43, Arizona 10                               Las Vegas, NV

Feb. 23         California 75, UCLA 22                         Los Angeles, CA

March 2       California 80, Arizona 14                      Berkeley, CA

UCLA 35, Oregon State 12                    Corvallis, OR

Utah 36, Arizona State 11                     Salt Lake City, UT

March 9       UCLA 50, Utah 32                                    Los Angeles, CA

California 62, Oregon State 7               Corvallis, OR

March 30   California 51, Utah 29                              Berkeley, CA

Arizona at Arizona State                        Tempe, AZ

April 5        UCLA at Arizona                                         Tucson, AZ

Oregon State at Arizona State                Tempe, AZ

April 7       Oregon State at Arizona                            Tucson, AZ

UCLA at Arizona State                               Tempe, AZ

April 13     Oregon State vs. Utah                                 Baker, OR

PAC Rugby Conference Standings

Team                            W-L-T                Points

California                      5-0-0                 25

Utah                             2-2-0                 12

UCLA                            2-1-0                 11

Oregon State                0-2-0                 0

Arizona                         0-2-0                 0

Arizona State                0-2-0                 0

(Points System: Win = 4 pts, Tie = 2 pts, Loss = 0 pts, Score 4+ Tries = 1 pt, Lose by 7 or less = 1 pt)