Cal vs. Texas | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Cal vs. Texas | 2016 Opening Round Preview

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.

Final Recap: BYU Reclaim Varsity Cup Crown!

Final Recap: BYU Reclaim Varsity Cup Crown!

In the third installment of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, BYU bested Cal 30-27 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead, and despite a couple of surges from the Golden Bears, held on to win their third consecutive Varsity Cup championship.

The teams traded field possession early in the game but it was ultimately a handling error that paved the way for the first score of the game. Cal botched a crash ball in its own territory and Seki Kofe pounced on the loose ball and punished the mistake with a try untouched under the posts.

The boys in black extended the advantage after a well-earned turnover. The man whose mother traveled all the way from New Zealand to see the match, Ara Elkington, stripped the ball and sent BYU counterattacking down the field. BYU earned a penalty at the breakdown and Johnny Linehan slotted it in to increase the lead to 10-0.

Cal earned its first points of the day after BYU was pinged for not rolling away at the breakdown. That would be a repeating theme as BYU would eventually lose prop Zane Menhendall to a yellow card from a similar infraction. In the 15th minute, Jake Anderson nailed the kick to cut the BYU lead to 10-3.

The Golden Bears began to earn some momentum, spending a majority of the remainder of the first half in BYU territory. However, several knock ons and slow ball stymied the Cal attack.

One of Cal’s handling errors resulted in a scrum inside the BYU half. The Cougars won the scrum and swung it wide to Josh Whippy, who split two defenders and found a streaking Josh Anderson for a try down the sideline. Linehan slotted the conversion to extend the lead to 17-3.

Cal responded with a bit of resurgence but still struggled to find points. Russell Webb broke the line and got the Bears within the 5-meter line. Solid defense from BYU, however, kept Cal at bay.

Minutes later, Cal earned another 5-meter penalty and instead of opting for points, decided to run the ball. Despite repelling the Cal attack, referee Kurt Weaver awarded Cal another penalty and sent Mendehall to the sin bin. Despite being at 14 players, and needing a front row sub, BYU kept Cal off the scoreboard and took a 17-3 going into the break.

The second half started with Cal still retaining a man advantage, and the Golden Bears were finally able to break down the BYU defense. Weaver awarded a penalty to Cal for offsides at a maul. Paul Bosco, took a quick tap from 5-meters out, stepped a defender, and dove in for the try. With the conversion, BYU led 17-10.

Cal took over the early stages of the second half, putting BYU on its heels. Like BYU in the first half, Cal scored an impressive try off a scrum. Jake Anderson darted down the sideline, fended off two defenders and powered through a tackle to touch down in the corner. Anderson missed the conversion, however, leaving Cal two points behind.

Near the 60th minute, BYU stemmed the tide, getting a penalty from Johnny Linehan. The New Zealander was perfect with the boot all day, nailing several tough kicks and setting up a try with cross field kick. Linehan found Jared Whippy with a perfectly placed cross-field kick to extend the lead to 27-15.

The Golden Bears refused to quit, however, scoring almost immediately after conceding a try. Cal recovered the ensuing kickoff and Anderson chipped a kick behind the BYU defense. The ball bounced off of BYU player and Cal recovered the ball. Michael Bush found an open gap around the fringe of the ruck to cut the lead to 27-20.

Linehan once again made it a two score game, but Cal kept its foot on the gas. Despite a number of knock-ons in BYU territory, Cal desperately tried to break down the BYU defense. Rather than try to run out the clock, BYU elected to kick for field position. The Bears swung the rock wide, and Harry Adolphus beat a man to the outside and found an oncoming Anthony Salabar back in field. The center slipped a defender and with the conversion, Cal trailed 30-27.

With five minutes to play, Cal tried desperately to tie up the game. Cal earned a penalty for a double move and Adolphus sent the Bears into BYU territory with a lineout. Up until this point the Bears were a perfect 11 for 11 on lineouts. However, Cal was unable to corral its 12th lineout and a scrum was awarded to BYU.

BYU worked the fringes for the remaining minutes and when the clock hit 80 minutes the Cougars kicked for touch. However, BYU did not heed the referees warning in the prior scrum that additional time would be added for time wasted.

Thus, Cal had one last opportunity at a lineout in BYU territory. The Golden Bears tried to attack wide but in all to similar fashion the ball was knocked on.

The final whistle blew with BYU earning a 30-27 victory and its third straight Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Title.

Photo Credit: Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

Final Preview: The Rivalry Continues (BYU vs. Cal)

Final Preview: The Rivalry Continues (BYU vs. Cal)

For the third consecutive year, BYU will take on Cal in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship. The Cougars won the first two Cups by three and 10 points respectively, and the teams will meet for the third time at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, Utah on Saturday.

California and BYU have a storied rivalry with the Golden Bears holding a 9-3 all time edge.  The Cougars have had more success of recent however, defeating Cal in their last several meetings.

Cal coach Jack Clark knows it will be a tough challenge to dethrone BYU, but relishes any opportunity to play the talented program.

“They’re the defending national champions and they’re undefeated. Say no more,” head coach Jack Clark said. “As daunting a task as it is, we love playing BYU. They bring out the best in us, I assume because anything other than our best would result in a hiding.”

The Golden Bears have cruised through Varsity Cup play so far, putting up a century mark against Texas, and using a strong second half to dispatch Navy 57-15.

“I’ve been very pleased with our team. It has been a rewarding season,” coach Clark said. “They boys are a pleasure to work with and they’ve played hard for their University. Further, I think we have a pretty well put together team, competent in most of the areas of the game.”

The two time runners up will look to get over the hump this year with a wealth of experience.  The Golden Bears will lean heavily on the tireless work rate of three-time All-American Alec Gletzer at flanker. The halfback combination of Paul Bosco and Russell Webb as well as the experienced Jake Anderson at fullback should play a vital role in Cal winning its 26th national title 15 aside competition.

Andrew Battaglia and Miles Honens, who both scored tries in last years Varsity Cup, flank Anderson on the wings. Sione Sina, who joined the rugby program after the culmination of his football career, has been a major presence in the pack.

BYU too enters the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup with a lot of experienced players and some welcome additions. The side only lost two starters from last year’s final and welcomed the addition of Alex Vorster at hooker. The freshman has jumped right into BYU’s squad and made impact in his first season.

Vorster is flanked by a couple of experienced props, Zane Mendenhall and Kody Thompson. Bolstering the pack, however, is four-time All-American and capped Eagle Kyle Sumsion.

The Cougar back line enters the final led by South African scrumhalf Luke Mocke and New Zealand flyhalf Johnny Linehan. The Whippy brothers, Jared and Josh, are a potent pair in the midfield, and Jordan Lowry has been a try-scoring machine on the wing.

BYU’s program has enjoyed great success as of recent, having won all four of its national titles in the last six years. BYU has yet to lose to a game this season and is  looking to cap off the 50th anniversary of the program with its fourth consecutive national championship.

“This has been one of the most exciting seasons we’ve had,” said David Smyth, BYU rugby head coach. “It’s fitting that this year is the 50th anniversary. Everyone involved this semester has given a performance worthy of the team’s great legacy.”

In the first two rounds, BYU powered by a determined UCLA squad and outmuscled a stingy Central Washington. Sumsion knows that it will be a tough task for BYU to complete the hat trick over Cal in the Varsity Cup final but is confident in his team’s ability to get the job done.

“We respect California enough to be sure to put it all on the field on Saturday,” said BYU captain and All-American Kyle Sumsion. “I’m confident in our scoring ability as a team and also our ability to make stops and create opportunities defensively.”

Over the last 12 years BYU and Cal have appeared in a combined twenty-two final fours. During that span Cal and BYU have won seven and four national titles, respectively. Cal versus BYU is the gold standard of rugby and if the last two years are any indication, this match should prove to be quite the thriller.

The game will kick off at 4PM EST and will be aired live on the NBC Sport Network.

Semi-Final Recap: Cal Trumps Navy

Semi-Final Recap: Cal Trumps Navy

Cal defeated Navy 57-15 at Witter Field to advance to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship. For the 3rd consecutive year, Cal will take on BYU in the final.

The Golden Bears opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a try from Harry Adolphus. Navy added a penalty but Cal outflanked the Navy defense and with a great individual effort from Miles Honens, scored a try in the corner. Honens stepped several Navy defenders in route to a 50-meter try down the left sideline.

 Navy battled its way back into the game but was unable to put up any more points in the first half.  Around the 25th minute, Cade Pope broke through the Cal line and if not for a try saving tackle from Jake Anderson would have scored. Anderson, however, was called for a high tackle and sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

The visitors probed the Cal line, but staunch defense kept them out. Cal was able to clear the line and prevent Navy from scoring during the man advantage. The Golden Bears moved down the field, and despite being down a man, were able to add three points with a Russell Webb drop goal. Cal added three more with a penalty from Anderson right before halftime to take a 16-3 lead going into the break.

Navy charged back with a try immediately following halftime. Justin Manke zipped down the left sideline to cut the Cal lead to one score. Cal immediately applied pressure, however, forcing a poor kick from the Navy 22. Webb fielded the kick, broke through the Navy line, and found Alec Gletzer to give Cal a 21-10 lead.

Gletzer was phenomenal all afternoon, and particularly disruptive at the breakdown. The senior forced a number of turnovers in critical moments. Gletzer, nonetheless, was a bit modest about his performance and gave credit to Navy for forcing his team to work incredibly hard.

“We got the job done to earn another shot at the final,” said co-captain Alec Gletzer. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect, but Navy deserves credit for that.”

After the Gletzer try Navy began to falter and Cal punished the Midshipmen. Anthony Salabar dotted down twice in five minutes to extend the lead to 33-10. Navy Coach Mike Flanagan praised Cal’s execution.

“Fundamentally sound all the time,” said Navy head coach Mike Flanagan of the Bears. “You’d better not make mistakes, because they will capitalize.”

Dakota Raymond answered back with another try for Navy, but it was all cal after that point. In the final twenty minutes, Cal added four more tries, with two coming from Nicholas Boyer. The Golden Bears earned the victory by the final score of 57-15.

Cal coach Jack Clark indicated that the large score was a little misleading of the Navy performance. “Nothing but respect for Navy, they were very difficult,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “It was a good match. They’re a bunch of stud guys.”

Cal will take on BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 2nd to determine the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup champion. The game will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network.

Semi-Final Preview: Cal vs. Navy

Semi-Final Preview: Cal vs. Navy

The University of California will welcome Navy to Witter Rugby Field, Saturday, for the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. A storied rivalry, the Golden Bears and Midshipmen have faced off in a number of postseason matches over the years.

Cal and Navy played in the 1980, 1983 and 1994 national playoffs and most recently in the 2013 Varsity Cup Semifinals. The Bears have come away victorious in each of these prior meetings but Cal respects the traditionally historic Navy program.

“Over the last 35 years we’ve played Navy in the National Championships more than any other team. They are bit like the old foe,” said head coach Jack Clark. “We know them well and we respect them as athletes and men. For sure, you always wake up in the morning with your body reminding you of the hard-fought contest.”

The game will take place on Cal Day and kickoff will follow the spring football game. For a number of seniors, it will be the last time that they take the field in Strawberry Canyon for the Golden Bears. With weather conditions expected to be pristine and a strong crowd behind them, the Golden Bears are excited to host the semifinals.

“We know that we still have better play in us and we’ll look to reveal that at home next weekend said senior Jake Anderson. “It’s an honor to host the semifinal and have our fans out again on Witter.”

After defeating Texas handily last weekend, Cal will be looking to use the same formula in handling a tougher Navy squad.“Our victory conditions,” said coach Clark, “are to be accurate, stay in rhythm, use all the aspects of our attack, be varied in our options and, most importantly, play quick.”

For Navy, it has been a much more difficult road to the semifinals. The Midshipmen escaped with two one-point victories in as many weeks. Coach Mike Flanagan stressed that his side has been taking things one game at a time.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to play 80 more minutes. That has been our mantra through this whole Varsity Cup campaign,” said Flanagan. “We are not playing for a championship any given day, we are playing for 80 more minutes.”

The next 80 minutes will be extremely tough for Navy, however. Not only will they have to travel 3000 miles into a hostile environment, Navy is playing against one of the premier collegiate rugby programs in the country.

“Playing them anywhere is a hard game and they are particularly good at home,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “Berkley does a phenomenal job of supporting that program They have lots of things happening for Collegiate Rugby on that campus and going into the Lion’s Den doesn’t make it any easier.”

Although Navy will face an uphill battle in the game, the experience of playing against a tough BYU squad in last year’s semifinals should bode well for the Midshipmen.

“We learned that if you are going to compete at that level, we are going to have to raise our level of physicality,” said Flanagan. “You are not going to be some smooth, free flowing team and beat someone like Cal or BYU. You have got to get physical up front and you have got to be able to have presence up front, hardcore for 80 minutes.”

The game will kickoff at 430 EST.

Quarterfinal Recap: Cal Dismantles Texas 100-7

Quarterfinal Recap: Cal Dismantles Texas 100-7

In Austin Texas, Cal dismantled Texas to the tune of a 100-7 victory. The Golden Bears starved the Longhorns of possession and capitalized early and often to put this game out of reach in the early minutes.

By the 4th minute Cal had dotted down twice and took a 12-0 lead. At the 12 minute mark, Cal had extended its lead to 29-0 and already put in five tries. Jake Anderson had a first half hat trick and the Bears ultimately finished with 16 tries to reach the century mark on the afternoon.

Lucas Dunne added three more tries for the Bears. Dunne and Anderson indicated that this game was about maintaining focus and getting the job done in the postseason.

“That’s what this trip was all about, to come out and play with focus,” Dunne said. Anderson added that “as a team we discussed the significance of continuing to build momentum and we got that job done today.”

Texas salvaged a score in the 53rd minute when Taylor Hayes intercepted a pass and went the distance for a converted try. It was the bright spot in a day where Cal utterly dominated.

“I expected to have more possession but Cal was very clinical today,” said Longhorns head coach Chris Hopps. “You could see they took pride in the physical execution.”

Although some rain erupted in the middle of the contest, Cal was seemingly unfazed by the slick ball. And with a number of under classmen performing well in the contest, it bodes well for Cal in the latter rounds.

Cal will certainly be happy with the result but will welcome a much more physical and aggressive Navy side next weekend. Coach Jack Clark indicated that their focus will immediately shift to playing the service men.

“With due respect to Texas and what the Longhorns are building, the single-elimination postseason format leaves precious little time to spend on this outcome,” said head coach Jack Clark. “The United States of America Naval Academy and a bunch of well-coached stud guys are visiting Strawberry Canyon next Saturday. Needless to say, they have our respect and they demand our focus.”

Round 2 Preview: Texas vs. Cal

Round 2 Preview: Texas vs. Cal

After defeating Notre Dame in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, Texas will welcome reigning Varsity Cup runner up Cal to Austin. The game will kickoff at 6pm ET.

The Bears, who currently sit at 15-1, have recently scored wins against St. Mary’s and British Columbia. Cal has averaged a lethal 58 points per game and only yielded a staunch eight points per contest. Cal is looking to extend their current winning strength to nine consecutive games.

The lineup for this weekend, however, will see eight new faces from the one that took on St. Mary’s. Cal head coach Jack Clark described the selection process as “a balance we need to strike in our overall approach to the postseason, and this means we will select a mixed team. Anyone carrying a nagging injury goes to the shelf for a week and we spread the responsibility for a victory among some of our reserves. We need to win, but we also need to be fresh for the subsequent matches, which only escalate in difficulty.”

Cal is hoping to head back to their third consecutive Varsity Cup final and will rely on creating depth for its talented roster. Clark indicated that the team was spread a little thin last year and hopes to get some of the younger players game experience.

“We took a few injuries leading up to and during last season’s final with BYU and our depth wasn’t championship sufficient,” Clark recounted of the road to the 2014 Varsity Cup final. “Getting more players postseason experience speaks to this objective of building the team’s depth.”

It will be a tough ask for a Texas team that lost 83-5 to the Golden Bears back in 2005. Nevertheless, the Longhorns welcome the challenge.

“Berkeley is the Golden Standard, said Texas coach Chris Hopps. “Most teams in America, if you are not named BYU, that is the way you measure yourself. It is going to be a monumental task to the guys.”

Texas understands the quality opponent that is Cal and immediately began focusing on the task at hand after the victory last Friday.

“After 10 minutes of celebrating, we kind of gathered up and talked about the kind of focus and bravery and intensity and all those things that go into a game, what it’s going to take to face up to them.”

Cal powered through the Varsity Cup last year with dominating wins over UCLA and Central Washington. Hopps indicated that Texas will give them everything they have this week in hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

“We are going to practice to win, we are going to come out to win,” said Hopps. “I can tell you one thing that both teams are going to wake up sore on Sunday.”

Semi-Finals Game Summary

Semi-Finals Game Summary

Varsity Cup Semifinals

2014 Navy-6

BYU 60 – 0 Navy Final

Location: South Field, 46 degrees, rainy
WeTransfer link to entire game video available: http://we.tl/2GT3Wji68Z 
Video game moments of note:
29th minute: Two-sport athlete and rugby All-American center Paul Lasike barging run for a try (20-0)
38th minute: Hooker Zane Mendenhall deft dummy pass and run for a try (27-0)
41st minute: Fullback Josh Whippey opens the second half scoring by slicing his way 60 meters through the Navy defense for a try (34-0)

Cal 58-14 Central Washington Final

Witter Field

Next Event: Varsity Cup National Rugby College Championship

BYU vs. Cal

2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 3, 2014
Rio Tinto Stadium


Provo, UT—After a one year respite one of collegiate sport’s greatest rivalries will be renewed on the campus of Brigham Young University where perennial national champion the University of California will look to upend the defending national champion BYU Cougars at their home venue of South Field Stadium in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship this Saturday, May 4th at 1pm MT.

In the last eight years the Golden Bears and Cougars have met for the national championship seven times—a streak of collegiate sport dominance unrivaled by other varsity sports.

Kick-off: Saturday, May 4th @ 1pm MT