The college 7s season on the West Coast begins Saturday with the aptly named West Coast 7s in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Cal Poly, Long Beach, Santa Clara, Sierra, Santa Rosa, Cal, Cal Poly, Saint Mary’s, Arizona State, UCLA and UC Davis are all competing. Santa Clara, Cal, Cal Poly and Saint Mary’s are all entering two sides.
"I'm really happy we are going to get playing time for two teams," said Cal head coach Jack Clark. "The boys have been very conscientious in their training and PT is always the reward they want."
Selections for the top Bears’ top side include three freshmen, four sophomores and eight upperclassmen led by captain Seamus Kelly, the program's all-time 7s leader in appearances (20) and tries scored (17). Only Brad Harrington from the Buckeye 7s will be absent due to injury. A USAR 7s All-American, Harrington stands tied for fourth all-time in Cal's nascent 7s history with seven tries scored.
Cal’s second side is set to be comprised of five freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors and two seniors, with only one player on that team - third-year Hunter Frisinger - having any prior 7s experience as a Bear.
Cal is coming off a successful Buckeye 7s Invitational Tournament where 10 Bears combined to score 19 tries over four matches, yielding only 15 points to the opposition. The Bears' all-time 7s record stands at 20-6(.769) entering Saturday's event at Talley Fields.
While Cal already has a tournament under its belt, most teams are just a few weeks into training. And this weekend’s host, Cal Poly, has seen a big boost of newcomers early on.
“After such a busy summer, everyone’s been so eager to get back into the swing of things and it was great to see so many new faces at training.” said Mustang senior Andy Early. “Some have come with a few years of Rugby experience under their belt, but it was awesome to see how quickly some of the rookies with no knowledge of rugby picked up the skills. We have some great athletes running around.”
Some of the top high school and youth rugby programs in California have contributed to the new stocks at Cal Poly Rugby this season.
Bellarmine, led by Cal Poly alum Matt Gallagher, continues its strong bond with Cal Poly Rugby with new freshmen Tyler Heuke, Nishant Mattu & Scott Canha joining the club. And freshman Jack Brown has joined fellow Jesuit alums, sophomore Scott Heath & junior Dom Ferri at Cal Poly this year. From other strong NorCal rugby programs are Taylor Honnette & Tyler Davis from the Granite Bay and Kyle Castaneda and Chris Lusich from Christian Brothers.
Saint Mary's returns Bubba Jones, Kingsley McGowan, August Heath, Lloyd Evans and Garrett Brewer this season. Nick Wallace is still in school, but will likely miss out on the tournament as he's been selected to the America's Rugby Championship squad which is assembling Saturday in San Francisco. Nonetheless, the Gaels should be considered a contender to win this early tournament.