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Rugby: Bears face familiar foe in national title game

Cal’s rugby team hopes its rematch with BYU on Saturday in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championships is not a re-run.

When the Bears (17-1) face the Cougars (13-0) at 2 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City it will be the ninth time in 10 seasons the two have clashed in the national title game.

Cal has won five of the previous eight, but BYU prevailed in the past two, including a 43-33 victory in 2014. Overall, the Bears maintain a 10-3 series edge against BYU, but coach Jack Clark knows that won’t mean anything Saturday.

“They’re the defending national champions and they’re undefeated. Say no more,” 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.”

Cal has won its past 11 matches this season, including a 52-15 win over Navy in a national semifinal at Berkeley. BYU toppled Central Washington 35-8 in its semifinal.

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Rugby: Bears fall to U of British Columbia

Cal lost 19-6 to the University of British Columbia in the opening game of the “World Cup” series on Saturday at Witter Field.

The teams will meet March 22 in a rematch in Canada, but the Bears face an uphill climb to secure the Cup, which goes to the team with the best combined scoring margin for the two games.

“It was obviously a big step up in competition for us and at times we struggled to adjust to the pressure,” said Cal coach Jack Clark. “We were both forced into errors and got a bit panicky when we got in behind them a few times. Had we scored a couple of those tries which were one pass away, who knows, maybe we could have made a match of it.

“But take nothing away from UBC, they were the better team on the day.”

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Rugby: Cal renews old series vs. British Columbia

* Pac-12 Networks/Pac-12 International, Saturday, 2 p.m.

Cal’s rugby team renews its oldest rivalry Saturday when it faces the University of British Columbia in the opener of the 95th World Cup series at Witter Rugby Field.

The Bears (6-0) and Thunderbirds (8-1) meet at 2 p.m. on the field above Memorial Stadium.

“The old foe is back and they will be as difficult as ever,” Cal coach Jack Clark said.

The Cup series, named after the “World” newspaper of Vancouver, began in 1921 and consists of an annual home-and-home matchup of two of the most powerful collegiate programs in North America.

The teams meet in Vancouver on March 22 to complete the series. The winner is determined on the basis of combined scoring differential.

Cal has won 11 of the past 15 series vs. UBC and has not lost the matchup at home since 2004. The Thunderbirds won the Cup last season, beating the Bears 40-3 in Vancouver after Cal won 33-24 in Berkeley.

“I heard someone say the Bears will be tested against UBC,” Clark said. “I think it more like we will be chucked into the fire. This said, we can’t wait for the opportunity to compete against them.”

Cal has dominated West Coast opponents so far this season, winning its six games by a combined margin of 325-13. But B.C. plays on a different level.

Rugby is Cal’s oldest intercollegiate sport, dating back to 1882. The Bears have won 26 national championships in the tradtitional rugby 15s format.

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Rugby: Bears win third straight 7s crown

Second-ranked Cal routed No. 5 Arizona State 45-5 on Sunday at Witter Rugby Field to complete an overwhelming run to its third straight PAC 7s Rugby Championship.

The Bears, who advanced to the title match with a 34-0 semifinal win over No. 17 Utah, scored four shutouts in six matches and outscored their opponents 226-10.

Cal exited the 11-team, 33-match event with the tourney’s most tries (38), and fewest tries allowed (2).

“We were good at looking after our own possessions and that allowed us to play less defense than some of the other teams,” said head coach Jack Clark.

The Bears won their six matches with an average output of 37.6 points while yielding only 1.6 to the opposition.

“We answered the bell four times yesterday and twice today, and it’s good for all of us to finish at the top of the podium,” Clark said.

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Rugby: Cal wins its pool at PAC 7s tournament

No. 2 Cal won all four of its pool play matches to advance to Sunday’s semifinal against Utah in the PAC 7s Rugby Championships at Witter Field on campus.

The semifinal match will be held at 11:20 a.m. The winner will face either third-ranked UCLA or ASU in the 1:30 p.m. title game.

In pool play, the Bears scored 25 tries and allowed just one. They shut out Stanford 41-0, then Oregon State 31-0, and Arizona 39-0, before posting a 35-6 win over Arizona State.

“We look forward to building on our performance tomorrow,” said Cal’s Andrew Battaglia, whose five tries matched the five scored by teammate Jesse Milne. “It was great playing at home with such tremendous support from fans and teammates.”

Cal is 2-2 all-time against the Utes in 7s play, having beaten Utah in their last two meetings – in pool play at the Battle in the Bay and in the final of the 2012 PAC 7s. Utah beat the Bears at the 2010 and 2011 Collegiate Rugby Championship.

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Rugby: Cal hosts PAC 7s tournament this weekend

Seven-man rugby, which will make its Olympic debut at the 2016 Games in Brazil, will be on display Saturday and Sunday when Cal is host to the PAC Rugby 7s Championship.

Ten schools from the Pac-12 Conference will participate in the event at Witter Rugby Field. The Bears, ranked second nationally, are chasing their third straight conference title. But the competition will be fierce — the event includes five teams ranked among the nation’s top 17.

Cal, collegiate rugby’s most successful program in the traditional 15-a-side game, is hosting a fall rugby 7s event for the first time. Teams will play two seven-minute halves with a one-minute halftime break in a wide-open, fast-paced game.

Pool play begins Saturday at 9 a.m. and runs through Sunday at 1:30 p.m., when the top two teams meet for the championship. The tournament features a total of 33 matches.

Rivals Cal and Stanford face off in the tournament’s first game in Pool A, which also includes Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State and USC. Pool B has Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Utah and Washington State.

Teams will be re-seeded before Sunday’s action.

Cal brings a 9-1 season record into the tournament, its one defeat coming at the hands of third-ranked UCLA by a 14-12 score in the West Coast Sevens title game at San Luis Obispo last month. The Bruins are 8-2, Stanford 6-1.

Also included in this week’s national rankings are No. 5 Arizona State, No. 14 Arizona and No. 17 Utah.

The Bears are 74-14 all-time in rugby 7s, including a 22-0 win over UCLA in last season’s PAC 7s title game, and 26-12 over Utah the year before.

*****

Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

Daily admission is $10, $5 for kids 12-and-under and for seniors, and free for Cal students and children 2-and-under.

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Rugby: Cal wins 7s national championships

The Cal 7s team completed its second straight undefeated run in the Collegiate Rugby Championships with a 24-21 victory over Kutztown University at PPL Park in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The championship was the 24th for Cal coach Jack Clark and the 28th overall for the Bears’ rugby program.

Cal finished the three-day event with a 6-0 record and tournament-leading totals of 31 successful tries and a plus-127 points differential. Team captain Seamus Kelly led Cal’s tournament effort with six tries.

The Bears began Sunday’s play with a 33-5 win over Penn State, then beat UCLA 20-17 in the semifinals on a last-minute try by Andrew Battaglia.

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The Cal women’s varsity four crew team won its second NCAA championship in four years Sunday at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

The Bears scored 118 total points to place second in the overall team championship to Ohio State. Cal has finished among the nation’s top three overall for seven straight seasons and nine of the past 10 years.

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The Cal men’s crew won Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in the second varsity eight and the third varsity eight races to finish second overall in the team category at Lake Mercer at West Windsor, N.J.

The Bears scored 188 points to wind up four points shy of IRA champion Washington.

 

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Rugby: Bears fall to BYU in Varsity Cup final

Cal lost 43-33 to BYU in the championship game of the Varsity Cup national tournament on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

It was the third straight national title for BYU (18-1). Cal (18-3), hoping to win its 27th all-time title, has come up short three straight years for the first time since the championship was first contested in 1980.

“They were very, very good today,” said Cal coach Jack Clark of the Cougars. “They’re the national collegiate champions on merit. Beyond BYU, I’m proud of the Varsity Cup universities which comprised this postseason. It has been a great tournament and we all salute the Cougars as our champion.”

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Rugby: Cal, BYU clash for national title

Cal’s rugby team seeks its 27th national title but its first in three years Saturday when it faces two-time defending champion BYU in the Varsity Cup National Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

The Bears (18-2) and Cougars (17-1) will square off in the title match for the eighth time in 10 years. Cal has won five of the previous seven, but BYU is potent, having outscored opponents this postseason by a margin of 130-15.

“We are unquestionably the underdogs,” Cal coach Jack Clark said. “This status doesn’t deter us — we prefer the clarity.”

Cal advanced to the championship game with a 58-14 home win over Central Washington last week, while BYU crushed Navy 60-0.

In terms of common opponents, BYU managed a 37-22 home victory over Cal Poly while Cal went on the road and pounded the Mustangs 95-14.

That outcome won’t help the Bears on Saturday.

“Our path to victory is narrow,” Clark said. “Against BYU, our victory conditions require a high degree of precision. A degree of accuracy with which our opposition isn’t burdened. In fact, BYU is so lethal, they can turn over a significant percentage of their possessions and still blow teams out.”

The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 1 p.m.