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.

#1 Cal Aims for PAC Crown vs #8 Utah at Homecoming

#1 Cal Aims for PAC Crown vs #8 Utah at Homecoming

BERKELEY – In a Saturday of firsts, No. 1 California aims to clinch the first championship in the inaugural PAC Rugby Conference while alumni, fans and families celebrate Homecoming on Witter Rugby Field for the first time since 2010 as the Golden Bears host No. 8 Utah on March 30 at 1 p.m.

The last time they met, the Bears squeaked by the Utes, 23-22, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City on a penalty kick from 40 meters with no time remaining by fullback Jake Anderson. On Saturday, both teams have PAC title aspirations on the line.

Cal is in the PAC conference driver’s seat with a 4-0 record (17-0 overall). Although the Utes have one conference blemish, a 50-32 loss suffered March 9 at UCLA, Utah can also secure the PAC title with a big win over the Bears this weekend followed by another over Oregon State on April 13.

Even if Utah (7-3, 2-1 PAC) upsets the Bears, Cal can still clinch the conference on Saturday with a four-try effort and/or a final score seven points or less in favor of the Utes (see rankings and points system below).

A Utah win on Saturday could also open the door for the Bruins to be crowned PAC champions, a scenario that would require Cal to come away from Homecoming with nothing gained in points standings and UCLA to win its last two matches with bonus points at Arizona and Arizona State (schedule below).

In control of their conference destiny on a day that celebrates Cal’s 131-year history back on its home field, the Bears can easily be assumed to be primed for a perfect performance against Utah. But coming on the heels of an always-emotional trip to British Columbia and a little time off for spring break, Cal will once again be challenged to step up its game against a formidable foe.

For fans, Saturday marks one of the last opportunities to enjoy a home match in 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.

The Bears’ postseason is already set with the Varsity Cup, in which Cal faces 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 compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

PAC Rugby Conference Standings

Team W-L-T Points
California 4-0-0 20
UCLA 2-1-0 11
Utah 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)

‘World Cup’ Finishes Sunday for No. 1 Cal Top-Ranked Bears Venture to Vancouver

Brendan Daly and the Bears are up 10 points going into their rematch with the Thunderbirds.

Brendan Daly and the Bears are up 10 points going into their rematch with the Thunderbirds.

BERKELEY – No. 1 California visits British Columbia Sunday, March 24, as the Golden Bears seek to win their seventh straight “World Cup” in the series finale kicking off at 1 p.m. in Thunderbird stadium.

An annual two-match tradition between Cal and UBC that began in 1921 with a trophy from the Vancouver World newspaper to the team that emerges tops in total points, the 2013 “World Cup” started Feb. 16 with a 28-18 Bears win that gives Cal a 10-point advantage going into Sunday’s rematch.

That margin happens also to be the points scored in the first match by Cal’s Paul Bosco and Anthony Lombardo, two top-line backs who have since been lost for the season to injury. Those setbacks have opened up opportunities for talented but less-experienced Bears to join the fray.

Cal (16-0/4-0 PAC) has continued through its schedule since the “World Cup” opener with six wins, including three in the PAC Rugby Conference, while British Columbia (12-2-2) has been busy as well, winning twice and battling to its second tie of the season while also advancing to the semifinals of Canada’s National Invitational 7s held in the beginning of March.

Assessing their keys to victory, both teams will likely aim to limit their error count and control possession while remaining ready to parry tactical kick exchanges for territory. UBC head coach Spence McTavish added the Thunderbirds will host their half of the 2013 “Cup” with a healthier lineup than those of the recent past. “I think we’ll be much stronger at home than we were the last couple of years,” he said.

A key matchup as Cal and UBC battle in the backline could be at outside center. Captain Seamus Kelly scored a try in the Berkeley opener and will wear the No. 13 jersey again opposite UBC’s Brock Staller, who scored 13 points on a try, conversion and two penalties in that contest.

Among the forwards, Cal hasn’t had J.P. Hurrell back at tighthead prop since he took an injury the following week at UCLA, creating playing time for Lyall Davenport and sophomore Chris Fry. Whoever starts at position will go up against Alex Kam, the UBC captain and a 2012 British Columbia provincial U-23 selection.

Sunday will mark the start of an exciting stretch for the Rugby Bears, with the “World Cup” capper followed by a Homecoming celebration to welcome students and alumni back to Witter Rugby Field on Saturday, March 30, against Utah. Two weeks after the match with the Utes marks the end of Cal’s PAC conference slate, the Bears host Saint Mary’s in the resumption of that local rivalry to end the regular season.

The Bears’ postseason is already set with the Varsity Cup quarterfinal, in which Cal faces Notre Dame April 20 at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The winner of that match will host the winner of Navy vs.
Dartmouth April 27, with the championship May 4 in Provo, Utah. Following the Varsity Cup, Cal will compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

Despite all that rugby on the horizon, the first mission for Cal this weekend is to bring the “World Cup” back to Berkeley.