Two weeks later, the photos have finally been painstakingly developed and then scanned to make this post. In this day and age of instant gratification, particularly with the social media, we at CGB is taking the slow approach here on the coverage of Cal's 2nd team national title of the 2013-14 school year. You know what they say, good things come to those who wait (or was that just a beer commercial).
Part 1 of my Cal Rugby at the 2014 CRC can be found here. This post is the exciting conclusion of that two day trip to this tournament.
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UCLA took a late 17-15 lead with less than 1.5 minutes remaining in the game.
Semifinals - (1) Cal vs. (3) UCLA
Bruins tried to keep the Golden Bears in check by kicking the kickoff out of bound to allow the Bruins to set up their defense. No matter, Bears marched down the field swiftly with Andrew Battaglia scoring the go-ahead try with just 30 seconds left in the game.
Bruins do get the ball back with one last shot. They turned the ball over and all the Bears had to do was just to kick the ball out of bound for the Win.
Kudos to the UCLA program for playing the Bears tough. Between how good their 15s look on that Pac-12 Networks rugby appearance earlier this season and how well their 7s squad have fared last year and this year, the Cal-UCLA rugby rivalry is great for the sports...particularly in light of that certain "Junior University" down the Bay who wouldn't fortify their program with this sports not being included in the Director's Cup scoring.
The Semifinal Scoring Timeline vs. UCLA
04:00 Jake Anderson 5
07:00 UCLA (Seb Sharpe) 5
Halftime Score: California 5, UCLA 5
09:00 Seamus Kelly 5
11:00 Jake Anderson 5
12:00 UCLA (Seb Sharpe) 5
13:00 UCLA (Niall Barry) 5, 2
14:00 Andrew Battaglia 5
Final Score: California 20, UCLA 17
The Team vs. UCLA
1. Kelly, 2. Harrington, 3. Gletzer, 4. Webb, 5. Bosco, 6. Anderson, 7. Battaglia
In the other semifinal, it was a mild shocker as Kutztown Golden Bears rallied from behind to beat the favorite (and last year's runner ups) Life Eagles 19-17.
Finals - (1) Cal vs. (5) Kutztown
Who are the Kutztown Golden Bears? Kutztown is a school from eastern Pennsylvania that is about 70 miles away from Philadelphia. They are a public school like Cal but in a rural setting (something called "Berk County"). They have produced football player like Andre Reed (former Buffalo Bills WR who is elected to the NFL Hall of Fame this year). On the bizarro side, the official colors for these Golden Bears are maroon (boo, shades of red) and gold.
Here comes the Golden Bears, the Cal variety and the Kutztown variety...leading by Kutztown's mascot, Avalanche.
In 1961, "Golden Bears" replaced "Golden Avalanche" as the official mascot of Kutztown University. (What is a Golden Avalanche?...quick wiki search tells me that Marquette who are now the Golden Eagles were also the Golden Avalanche at one point).
I would go out on a limb to say that "Golden Bears" will win the CRC 2014 championships game. But what color/flavor?
I guess you can argue that the Avalanche's fur is a bit more "golden" than our Oski.
Between their meeting in pool play last year (10-5 Cal victory) and Kutztown's performance up to this point, the Cal Golden Bears know that their opponents from Kutztown is one of the more physical team in this tournament.
Here is a close up of one of their player.
Kutztown did bring quite a support group with them to the tournament.
That section may be a bit intimidating when the Bears are playing on that corner of the field.
Here the Cal Bears huddle up before kickoff.
Kutztown got the ball first to open the championship game.
The Golden Bears got the ball back and tried to make something happen in front of the Kutztown section.
Here is the view from the Cal sideline where I had decided to watch this match (while averting getting in the way of our beloved team and also the NBC camera folks). Also watching the game near me is Cal Football alum and current Philadelphia Eagle LB Mychal Kendricks.
03:00 Kutztown (Bruce Dolan), (Niku Kruger) 2
Kutztown got on the board first.
This run sets up the Kutztown try down the middle where they also made the easy conversion.
05:00 Alec Gletzer 5
Battaglia and Gletzer on the outside were able to take advantage of a 2 on 1 situation for the Bears to allow Cal to get on the board. Alec Gletzer had to power through the last defender to get in the try zone.
Right away, Cal took advantage of a Kutztown turnover (a knock-on). Getting the ball off a scrum in Kutztown territory, the Bears quickly went to the other side of the field with Andrew Battaglia using his speed to score the go-ahead try and allow Webb to make an easy conversion.
Halftime: California 12, Kutztown 7
Jake Anderson gave a great short pass to Brad Harrington and he's off, speeding in for a try (which leads to a conversion) to give Cal a 12 point lead.
Here is Harrington outrunning the lone Kutztown defender.
11:00 Kutztown (Mike Lawrenson) 5, (Niku Kruger) 2
Credit to Kutztown to immediately fight back with a try and conversion of their own. Their 6'7" big man Lawrenson got the ball in space and could not be stopped (although Cal's Alec Gletzer certainly tried).
The lead is back down to just 5 with 3 minutes left in the game. A smart kick by Jake Anderson allowed the Cal Bears to earn a 5 meter scrum, deep in Kutztown's zone.
With the game being so tight, I apparently forgot to document the game and stop taking photos for a few minutes. I know, it is an amateur move.
13:00 Patrick Barrientes 5
Cal eventually went to the sideline with Barrientes getting in for the game sealing score with just a minute left.
The following photo is courtesy of Cal Rugby and Abel Barrientes (father of Cal rugger Patrick Barrientes and taking photos for the team and the parents with much much sweeter equipment than me).
Few more action shots from this match (that took place right in front of me):
14:00 Kutztown (Vetekina Malafu) 5, (Niku Kruger) 2
With the game result all but decided, Kutztown got one last try (and conversion) to make the final score looks closer.
Final Score: California 24, Kutztown 21
The Team vs. Kutztown
1. Kelly, 2. Harrington, 3. Gletzer, 4. Webb, 5. Bosco, 6. Anderson, 7. Battaglia
Your final score. Cal is the more "golden" in the battle of Golden Bears as the team received the tournament gold (they do get a medal but I am pretty sure that is not made of gold or even gold plated).
It's time for me (and the other "members of media") to rush the court!
Post championship celebrations, etc.
Here is the photo from Abel Barrientes
The whole team celebrates this tournament victory. It took more than just the 8 players that got in the championship games to get this done.
The team then raised their captain Seamus Kelly after he concludes his illustrious Cal career with another rugby 7s title.
Coach Clark was emotional after the win while celebrating with his players.
The team formed a huddle around a Cal flag (passed from the stand by one of the parents).
Here is another look at this huddle (and all the camera folks surrounding this precious team moment).
The official team photo is taken with some of the tournament organization folks.
I am amazing by the constraints shown by our team to not kick the CRC 7s mascot, Rug Bee.
The team then went over to the stands to celebrate with their family and friends.
The Cal Rugby family and friends posed for a picture.
After each player received their individual medal, they took a team photo with the championship trophy.
Right at the center of the group photo, Seamus Kelly and Jake Anderson (who will be back next year for the Bears).
Team also took a photos with Head coach Jack Clark and coach Tom Billups (who I believe is even more heavily involved with the 7s training than the 15s).
Like I said, Coach Clark is a bit emotional before addressing the full team one final time this season. It should be noted that shortly after this tournament, Coach Clark flew to Houston, TX to be inducted to the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame on June 7th. While it was a slight surprise to many of us Cal fans that Coach Clark was not already in this hall, it was still quite an honor. In 31 years as the head coach of the Cal Golden Bears, coach Clark has delivered 24 national titles total - 22 in 15s and 2 in 7s from these past two years. There is no truth to the rumor that U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame only took notice of Jack Clark only after his election into the CGB Hall of Fame.
Coach Clark instructed his team of young men to make smart decisions in the offseason. A very nice moment for the team to conclude another great weekend of Cal rugby.
Post game quotes - Coach Jack Clark
Coach Clark made himself available to answer some questions from the press. Coach Clark's reply is in italic.
On if it was a set play at the end to set up the game clinching try (by Barrientes):
No. That was just guys improvising.
On not playing Life, whether playing Kutztown is a bit of a disappointment after everyone is expecting a rematch of last year's championship game.
We just want to get to the final. Whoever that gets there is going to be good.
On Philly area rugby and whether that is getting better because of this tournament.
I hope it is getting better.
More on Cal Rugby and Philadelphia.
We love Philadelphia. We love coming here. We are treated very well here. It has been a pleasure [to come to Philly].
On that note, this concludes my coverage of the 2014 CRC. It is always very very fun to see a Cal team do well and win a national title in person. I would like to thank all the various Cal rugby staff and parents who were willing to casually chat with me during this weekend to add to my rugby understanding.