The fog lifted Sunday morning to reveal a perfect day for rugby in Santa Cruz, CA. Sunny, 65 and visibility to Monterey on the Lower East Field made for an excellent setting for the battle between the Golden Bears and the Fighting Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz. Coming in with an undefeated record against stellar competition, the Bears mainly looked to use the game against the Slugs as a tune up match for the frosh-soph reserves. The Slugs on the other hand were looking for a solid showing to send the seniors out on a good note. After the jump, I'll take a crack at recapping the first half, with props to Yes We Cannon and Mr. F for helping out with the notes and additional photos.**Full disclosure: I am a proud Banana Slug alumnus, so forewarning on any unintentional bias in the recap. Go Slugs!**
Today's match up took place in the quirky state park/educational institution known as UC Santa Cruz, nestled on the edge of the Henry Cowell coastal redwood forest, a truly unique and beautiful setting for many outdoor activities. And like the beginning to any quality, unique and beautiful outdoor activity, this one started with bagpipes.
On the hillside that leads from East Field to Lower East Field a lone UCSC rugby player emerged with bag pipes at full blow. His playing was met with enthusiasm from the assembled crowd of fans, players' friends and families, as the teams began warming up.
While UCSC engaged in some standard drills, Coach Clark talked strategy with one of his assistants, as the A team took in the sights.
With warm ups concluded, the Golden Bears took the field...
After one more brief bagpipe solo...
The game was on! The Banana Slugs kicked off and Cal went to work immediately.
The Golden Bears took only four minutes to work their way down to the Slugs' try zone.
A scrum ensued on the end line before the Bears pushed their way in for the first try of the game (one of many to come).
After completing the conversion on the try and a few back and forths, number 9 of UCSC broke free and responded with a try of his own. As one of the captains/members of the comic relief team of the Slugs, we'll have more on him later.
The Slugs converted and tied the game up at 7.
Thanks to RugbyVet for the official recap which helped fill in my foggy memory of the sequence of events for the remainder of the half. Cal went on to score two more trys in the 11th and 16th minutes.
Action shots of the tricky conversion on the second try as coach Clark looks on approvingly.
The Slugs made a couple good runs, but were usually halted before threatening the end line.
Now that's a perfect form tackle! Cal's third try below.
After the third Cal try the Slugs made their last points of the half with a penalty kick.
Cal answered quickly with four consecutive trys of their own.
The fifth try was taken in by a young Cal rugger known to the crowd as "Wheels" (RugbyVet can probably fill in his roster info).
After blowing by every man in pursuit, with several broken ankles in between, I'd say Wheels is an appropriate nickname. A couple more action shots of the first half below.
At one point there was a kick from the corner by Cal.
After quickly curving out of bounds coach Clark remarked to the young rugger "I can spit farther than that went!"
After scoring trys 5, 6, 7 and 8 the teams broke for half. 47-10 Golden Bears.
During the break coach Clark and staff returned to the Cal tent to discuss strategy for their further as-salt on the Slugs in the second half. (See what I did there?)
Tomorrow I will recap the second half with more photos from myself and Mr.F. Please feel free to fill in any details I may have overlooked from the first half.
With that I leave you with a photo of the UCSC Director of Club and Intermural Sports and all around nice guy Kevin "Skippy" Givens and his box of bananas.
Check out those sweet Slug socks!