On a relatively warm Saturday in the historic Witter Rugby Field, the Cal men’s rugby team took on two opponents in UCSB and the San Diego Legion Academy, or U23. For the Bears, this was the return to action after the postponement of a contest against Santa Clara.
While cheering for their home team, the Cal fans in Witter Field lacked a certain earnestness that is common in collegiate sports games. That is, the thought of defeat, or even a tightly contested matchup, seemed to all but cross the minds of the home fans. At times, it appeared that the only mystery was how many points the Bears would blow out the opposition with.
This type of fan culture is not a given and is fueled by this program’s rich history of success. As Berkeley’s oldest intercollegiate sports program and perhaps its most prominent, the Bears have produced 17 players in the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. Adding to the team’s clout is legendary Cal men’s rugby head coach Jack Clark, coaching 136 All-American players thus far.
After the off time the Bears had with COVID-19, this season has been among the best in the program’s history, as the Bears currently have an 18-game winning streak and came out victorious in the 7s Championship.
Fans expect dominance and victory from this program, and as such, the Bears delivered –– putting on an outstanding performance for both of their opponents.
The blue and gold began the day by taking on the Gauchos, an opponent they faced and defeated in the fall. As expected, this matchup was over quickly, as the Bears jumped to a 26-0 halftime lead en route to their 66-5 victory. Junior Alex Brundage went 8-10 on conversions while Max Clark and Dom Paga both had two scores.
In finishing off UCSB, the stage was set for the Bears to face SD Legion Academy, the U23 Academy team for the Major League. The Bears were overwhelming for the legion, to say the least. The Bears won by their fantastical score of 120-0, dominating SD in every sense of the word.
The Bears scored a whopping 18 tries from 16 players, with the standout performance of Junior Max Schumacher and his 12-12 conversion attempts. Needless to say, the Bears set forth a masterful defensive performance.
This matchup was a treat for Cal fans and all attendees. While the goal of this season is aimed at winning the championship, doing so while undefeated is within grasp for the Bears. Having already won the 7s Championship in the fall with a winning streak under their belts, this is anything but foreign territory for this blue and gold.
Cal will not have to travel for its next matchup, as it is slated to host California Maritime Academy on Feb. 5. In doing so, the Bears will attempt to close the gap between themselves and the championship by securing a win.