The Cal Bears dominated Texas with an emphatic 138-0 victory over the Longhorns. The Golden Bears earned 22 tries in the rout and cruised to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.
The Bears dotted down 11 times in the first half and took a 55-0 lead going into the break. Scrumhalf Nickolas Boyer scored a pair of tries and went four of seven on conversions. Karl Thornton and George Vrame each added two while Lucas Dunne, Jesse Milne and Connor Sweet each scored once.
The second half was not any tougher for the Bears. Despite bringing on a number of substitutes, Cal continued its torrid scoring pace. Zachary Tavenner scored four second half tries in the span of 11 minutes and Dunne added two more to get the hat trick. In all, Cal had twelve different try scorers.
Despite the drubbing, Texas continued to fight throughout the match.
“We’re really grateful to Texas for making the trip. It was hard on them but they were resilient throughout,” said head coach Jack Clark. “For 30 years these first-round matches have been more lopsided than everyone wants. So even more respect for the Longhorns seeing it through.”
Coming into the game, cal wanted to take over early. With five scores in the first 20 minutes, the Bears were able to bring on substitutes and get ready for a tougher opponent in Army next week.
“The goal was to advance and play well,” said matchday captain Nick Salaber. “The goal this week is work hard and set ourselves up to keep improving. Army is going to be a tough team.”
The Golden Bears will travel to West Point to take on Army next weekend.
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.
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.”
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.”
For the second consecutive year, Texas eliminated Notre Dame to advance to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. In Austin, Texas, the Longhorns used two second half scores and solid defense to defeat the Fighting Irish 22-17.
Texas started strong and opened the scoring with a try in the opening minutes. Tommy Gilmore bashed through the Notre Dame defense for a try under the posts and a 7-0 lead.
The Fighting Irish controlled much of the play for the next fifteen minutes, earning several penalties at the breakdown. Texas struggled to control a bigger and stronger Irish pack and were penalized as a result. Notre Dame capitalized on the penalties when they drove a maul over the line for a score. Notre Dame missed the conversion and Texas retained a 7-5 lead.
They were really big, really strong and really heavy,” Texas coach Chris Hopps said of Notre Dame. They were a load at the set pieces.”
Notre Dame continued to dominate the ruck area, garnering several more penalties. The referee’s patience wore thin, and he sent a Texas flanker to the sin bin. The Irish spent much of the bin time in Texas’ territory but a knock-on on the goal stymied the Notre Dame attack.
Things settled down for Texas, however, and the Longhorns garnered the only three points earned during the penalty.
“I thought we faced some adversity,” said Hopps. “”We had to make some adjustments to the way that the breakdown was being called. We had to throttle back our aggression. It became more about pressuring them into mistakes rather than winning the ball back.”
At 10-5, Notre Dame fought its way back into the game with a score off a quick tap. The Irish caught the Texas defense napping and darted over to tie the game. The conversion was missed and the game went to halftime nodded at 10 apiece.
Texas controlled the early stages of the second half. Taking a page out of the Notre Dame book, the Longhorns drove down the field by attacking the fringes. The home side established sustained pressure inside the 22-meter line and twice earned penalties 5-meters out. A knock on and a penalty against Texas, however, ended both attacks and Notre dame was able to clear their line.
The defensive pressure from Texas was very strong in the second half, and a strip they earned at a ruck resulted in the first score the second stanza. Off the turnover, the ball found Felix Olazaran, who outflanked the Notre Dame defense and fended off two tacklers to score a 50-meter try. With the conversion, the Longhorns led 17-10.
The Longhorns added to their lead several minutes later with a well executed try off a scrum. Texas drew the Notre Dame defensive line in and the blindside wing Matt Young split a gap to score down the right sideline.
For the remainder of the second half, Notre Dame attempted to cut into the Texas lead but a strong defensive effort kept the Irish at bay for almost the remainder of the game.
“I thought our guys played great from beginning to end in lose play,” added Hopps. “I thought we swarmed in the tackle and were read it well and were able to cover it well. We really forced them to work down the field. Obviously, I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Notre Dame once again caught the Texas defense napping on a quick tap, however, cutting the lead to 22-17. With very little time left, Texas forced Notre Dame into touch on the ensuing kickoff. The Longhorns maintained possession in the dying moments to punch their ticket to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.
Texas will host the University of California next weekend.
The first game of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup will kickoff under the lights in Austin, Texas between the University of Texas and Notre Dame. Since Notre Dame is a Jesuit University, Texas agreed to play the game on Friday night to allow Notre Dame students to return to campus for the rest of the weekend.
In the 2014 Varsity Cup, Texas traveled to South Bend and came away with a 55-33 victory. Notre Dame will have their chance to exact revenge on Texas, but will have to come away with a tough road victory.
It will be even more of a challenge for the Fighting Irish, as a number of players picked up injuries in the recent weeks. Already a young side, Notre Dame had to make a number of roster adjustments after a bruising encounter while touring in Arizona and after hosting a leg of the ACRL 7s series this past weekend.
“We were so young last year, so the issue we had was we had to get a greater IQ and that is what we were doing by playing more games. What has transpired is more games has led to more injuries,” said Notre Dame coach Sean O’Leary added.
In addition to more games, the Fighting Irish have adopted a strength and conditioning program. “It has helped us start to develop size, start to develop explosiveness,” O’Leary added. “We see that as a promising way to start to compete at this next level, which is something we want to do.”
The visitors will rely heavily on sophomore captain Luc Joseph. Joseph, who just returned from a stint in Canada, with the Men’s Junior All Americans will lead a team comprised of mostly freshman and sophomores.
For Texas, hosting a big time school such as Notre Dame is a big step for the rugby program.
“Our guys are really excited,” said Texas coach Chris Hopps. “Notre Dame needs no introduction, they are one of the premier institutions in the United States and have a great rugby program…This is one of the biggest games we have ever hosted at UT, so we are really focusing on putting on a good performance.”
The Longhorns will look to repeat the success of last year’s performance. The Longhorns jumped out to an early lead and were able to withstand a Notre Dame comeback in the second half to earn a ticket to the second round.
“I know that Notre Dame was very young, we probably caught them at the right time” Hopps of said of last year’s meeting. “I think we caught them pretty quickly and it gave our guys enough of a front foot to build some space and build a lead.”
Hopp’s indicated that he does not believe there is very much between the sides and it was more a reflection of the moment. “That game was more to do with what happened on the day rather than us being a better team.”
Unlike Notre Dame, Texas has a strong class of seniors leading the way. Captains Taylor Hayes and Tommy Gilmore have been around the program a long time and provide strong leadership.
“These guys are definitely the face of the program, they are the best players and are generally the hardest workers,” Hopps stated.
Gilmore and Hayes highlight a strong senior class that includes Tanner Avery and Connor O’Leary, both of who have played in four Collegiate Rugby Championship events and several Varsity Cups.
The game will kickoff at 8PM ET on Friday evening.
Provo, UT— The Varsity Cup announced today the University of Texas will join The Varsity Cup beginning with the spring 2014 postseason championship.
Texas recently announced its departure from the Allied Rugby Conference after the Longhorns reached the ARC Championship match before falling to Texas A&M and finishing with a 4-1 ARC record.
Joining the Varsity Cup is an exciting step forward for Texas says Longhorns coach Chris Hopps.
“Texas is thrilled to join the Varsity Cup,” Hopps said, ‘This is an exciting and important time in college Rugby. The direction and focus of the Varsity Cup aligns with the path set forth by the leadership here at Texas. We have an immense amount of work to do as a team and as a program and we look forward to meeting the challenge.”
The Longhorns are set to join the Varsity Cup having agreedto a participation commitment for the 2014 and 2015 post seasons. The decision to support Texas’ entry into the Varsity Cup came with the unanimous backing of the Varsity Cup universities.
BYU rugby coach David Smyth commented, “Adding a notable university such as Texas signals the Varsity Cup’s intention to become the premier rugby competition in America. We look forward to seeing the Longhorns in the Varsity Cup in the coming seasons.” Smyth continued, “At the beginning of this endeavor we set out with a long term strategy to not only grow the game, but also to give American collegiate rugby the vehicle it deserved to ensure that the game, the teams and the players have the platform needed to be the best that they can be. In all likelihood we will continue to expand.”
The Varsity Cup kicks off this weekend with two Super-Regional rounds of quarterfinal matches.
One Super-Regional takes place at UCLA with the three-time past National Collegiate Champion Air Force Academy taking on Central Washington at 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 PT.
Both Western Super-Regional matches are slated to be played at UCLA’s picturesque North Athletic Field Stadium.
The Eastern Super-Regional starts with 2011 National Collegiate Rugby Champion California takes on Notre Dame and Navy meeting two-time College Rugby 7’s Champions 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.
The Varsity Cup also recently released details regarding its broadcast plans which include utilizing Navy’s partnership with CBS Sports as well a a partnership with YouTube to stream all matches either live or in highlighted versions. For more details on the Varsity Cup’s broadcast pans please visit the Varsity Cup website.
For more news and ticket information on the Varsity Cup go to VarsityCup.US. More news and information on the Varsity Cup and the participating teams can be found on Facebook and Twitter.