Cal will host the University of Texas at Strawberry Canyon in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. For the second consecutive year, the Longhorns will battle the Golden Bears in the Varsity Cup.
Cal traveled to Austin last year and took care of business against Texas to the tune of a 100-7 victory. The Longhorns know it will not be any easier this year, and traveling to California will not make things any easier.
“We know it is going to be tough. Especially from last year. We have had a challenging year as a team but this is why you do it. You go up and test yourself….We are looking forward to the bay area and the challenge,” said Texas coach Chris Hopps.
Texas struggled in Red River play this year, going winless. The Longhorns have been playing better as of late, narrowly losing to Oklahoma last week. Led by fly half Carson Youmen, the Longhorns will try and slow down a potent Cal attack.
“He has got a ton of skill and he is probably one of the better defensive numbers 10’s regionally and I would guess nationally,” Hopps said of Youmen. “He has been a cornerstone on what we have been building off this year.”
One thing that Texas took away from last year’s drubbing was the level of physicality that Cal can bring. Since the schedule was announced, the Longhorns have been preparing for a big, physical opponent.
“Just getting ready physically. Ever since we found out we are going to be playing them…we have been trying to get the guys strong enough and fit enough and the mindset to really battle it out with them,” Hopps added “We knew they would be good, the tempo would be high, with the skills and the athleticism but I hadn’t really seen a Cal team that physical…..Going in we are a lot more aware of that this time and hopefully we are going to compete a little more in the physical side of the game.
Cal comes into the matchup with a 14-2 record, with the only two losses coming to the University of British Columbia. The Golden Bears captured their fourth straight PAC Rugby Conference and will looking to usurp the Varsity Cup crown from BYU.
Knowing the result from last season, and with an undercard match slated with Santa Clara scheduled on Saturday, the Golden Bears will play a mix of upper classmen and less experienced players.
“The lineup plan is to field an underclassmen team against Santa Clara and a mixed team versus the Longhorns,” said head coach Jack Clark. “This is going to be a challenging month of competition and we are going to need to manage the wear and tear on our players.”
Cal is the heavy favorite in this matchup, but with a year of experience and nothing to lose, Texas will come out gunning for the Bears.