As expected, Cal and UCLA both went undefeated on the first day of the Dennis Storer Classic at UCLA. The Bruins beat UC San Diego 37-10, UC Riverside 17-7 and UC Davis 26-0. The Bears beat UCSB 34-0, UC Davis 45-0 and UC San Diego 57-0. All matches were 40 minutes.
Both teams mixed their lineups throughout the day. Cal’s Seamus Kelly didn’t play at all, and the Cal team that played UCSD was made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores. Russell Webb, a stalwart on the Cal 7s team as a freshman, was impressive at No. 10 against the Tritons, and High School All American Anthony Salaber scored a four tries in his Cal debut.
Also making their Golden Bear rugby debuts were two upperclassmen – Santa Barbara City College transfer Alec Gletzer and football convert JP Hurrell. Gletzer played well in the back row, racking up a number of tackles in his first college tournament outside of an SBCC jersey.
“It was really exciting for me, actually, because this program has a lot of history and it’s a cool thing to be a part of,” said Gletzer.
“The competition here, there’s a lot of good guys out here and it’s pretty fun competing everyday at practice with them.”
Hurrell was a special teams contributor and linebacker for the gridiron Bears for four years. The son of an All Blacks fan, he decided to give rugby a shot in his last semester of college, and Saturday marked his first as a rugby player.
“I had a lot of fun. I’m not going to lie, I was a little winded,” said Hurrell. “I wasn’t ready for the speed of the game, but it was a lot of fun at the end of the day.”
Hurrell played tighthead prop Saturday. Senior Kiwi prop Lyall Davenport has been acting as Hurrell’s personal rugby tutor.
“He’s just showing me step by step what to do, and if I’m ever doing anything wrong at practice he corrects me or tells me what I could do better,” said Hurrell. “I just really appreciate all the help from guys on the team and the coaches.”
UCLA’s games were a lot closer than Cal’s, especially the squeaker against UCSD, but the Bruins fielded mostly reserves in that contest. Against Davis, UCLA displayed stellar backline play. Davis would work its way into UCLA’s end slowly, the Bruins would get a turnover, spin the ball wide and race for a long-range try.
“We’ve got a lot of speed out there, and I think as the season progresses and we get formed up, we’re going to be a seriously dangerous team to reckon with,” said Seb Sharp, who played at fullback and wing for UCLA Saturday.
“Once the team starts molding together and we get the forwards and the backs working simultaneously and using our speed, we have some beefy centers as well, I think it’s going to shape up.”
The Bruins take on Cal on the tournament’s second day at 1pm.
“They’ve got some big guys,” said Sharp of Cal. “It’s hard to judge from today, as they didn’t play their full side, but we’ll see them when they come out tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”