The University of California has never lost a game at the Dennis Storer Classic, and Day One of this year’s tournament showed no indication that their record is in danger.
The #2-ranked Golden Bears went undefeated in their three games Saturday, the only score against them a try from UC Davis. They scored 195 - in games shortened to 40 minutes for tournament play - against UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis and surrendered just those five to the Aggies.
The Bears will be facing the tournament’s hosts, #8 Bruins of UCLA, tomorrow in what amounts to a tournament final. The Bruins too remained undefeated on Saturday, defeating UC Riverside, UC San Diego, and UC Davis.
Both teams were able to cycle players and test combinations against their opponents, which will be valuable in preparing them not only for each other tomorrow but for tough seasons ahead. The Bears only have one more game after tomorrow’s to prepare for the first of their yearly bouts against University of British Columbia. The Bears and the Bruins will face off in Berkeley on February 22nd, the first Bruin visit to Witter Field since 2004.
“We play them every year in this tournament and in our PAC play, and playing them gives us a great benchmark in terms of our progress as a program," said UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart. "We’re looking forward to playing them tomorrow.”
UC Davis showed physicality and creativity at times against tougher opponents, today, as well as in their resounding 36-7 victory over Santa Barbara. They will play UC Riverside tomorrow, who showed some flash and shiftiness in their 19-0 victory over UCSD.
UC Santa Barbara also notched one victory, while UCSD finished the day 0-3.
“Today was a good opportunity to get a lot f teams a lot of valuable minutes early in the season. I think it was a great show of UC rugby,” Stewart said.
"It's great to see everyone get a chance to play, whether you're a seasoned campaigner or a new player trying to make a name for yourself," added Cal's Jake Anderson. "We're trying to get started well with our systems and put everything that we've been training for the past two weeks onto the field."
Scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer scored the Bears' first try of the season against UCSB, followed soon after by the first career try by freshman Edward Tandy as Cal blanked Santa Barbara. Josh Tucker and Harry Libarle each scored two of Cal's 12 total tries.
Among the busload of Bears making their season debut was Paul Bosco, who started against UC Davis for his first minutes since sustaining an injury in Feb. 2013. "It's grand to able to play again," he said, "not just for these young guys getting their first opportunity to make a mark in their career, but just as much for older guys like me trying to make our mark, too."
While playing time extended virtually all the way through the Bears' travel roster, minutes were limited to preserve some of Cal's more established players, including captain Seamus Kelly.
California 70 UCSB 0
UCLA 24 UC San Diego 0
UC Davis 36 UC Santa Barbara 7
UC Riverside 19 UC San Diego 0
California 42 UC Davis 5
UCLA 42 UC Riverside 12
UC Santa Barbara 36 UC San Diego 5
California 83 UC Riverside 0
UCLA 52 UC Davis 0
(Additional reporting from Cal Rugby reports)