Yesterday was one of the biggest matches of the year for Cal Rugby. Cal hosted Saint Mary's at Witter Field. Cal and SMC are two of the best rugby teams in the nation. Last year, SMC beat Cal for the first time since the early 1990s. I'm sure the rugby team was looking for some revenge. I know I was!
Many of the games that rugby plays are not close. A quick review of their schedule shows that not only is Cal undefeated, but only two of their games could be charitably called "close." Cal gave up 7 points in the first 10 or so games! Earlier this year, Cal defeated Stanford in rugby by 176 (NOT A TYPO) points.
So, SMC promised to be a close match between two even (ish) foes. The SMC fans travel well (gotta deal with Caldecott traffic!) and were in fine form. They were cheering all match long with lots of "LET'S GO GAELS" chants. It is rare for Cal fans to really have to get emotionally engaged in a match, let alone to be presented with a rabid set of opposing fans.
Finally, a real Bay Area rivalry! Great stuff! So, could Cal avenge last year's loss and beat the Gaels??? Let's find out!
Also, I wish I was more knowledgeable about the rules and could provide greater insight, but, despite years of attending rugby matches, I retain only the most base levels of rugby knowledge. My post is more about the general atmosphere and some action shots than the nitty gritty. Hope you enjoy it anyway. Thanks!
Cal and SMC traded "field goals" in the early going, setting up a 3-3 and then 6-6 game. I say "field goals" because its the football terminology, but I believe they are technically called "penalty kicks" and have rules far different than football field goals. But I'm lazy. SO LAZY!
Unfortunately, in the first half, SMC seemed to be controlling the game. I'll be the first to admit that I don't fully understand all the rules to rugby. I was able to see where the game was played and it seemed like the first half spent more time on SMC's side of the field (away from where I was standing).
Sadly, this cool looking tackle came out a bit blurry. In real life, that is. My photo isn't blurry, it perfectly captures the scene!
Here, a Cal player went down and appeared to be seriously hurt. Play does not stop and with a numbers advantage, SMC was able to score a try soon after. This gentleman had to be helped off of the field and the injury appeared to be quite bad. Hope he is OK!
There are a lot of tactics associated with the post-tackle phase that I do not fully understand. Here, the game paused for a moment while the SMC player surveyed the players to determine the best course of action. The Cal players waited to see what he was going to do and respond accordingly.
I've always loved the throw ins in rugby. I wonder how this strategy of picking up your player developed. Like did somebody just do it some day (presumably many moons ago) and everybody else copied? Kinda curious.
Also, look at how gorgeous this scene is with the hills and forests in the background. So happy Witter Field is up and running again, it is an amazing place to take in a game.
Cal went into half down 21-6. SMC had seemingly controlled the game and taken advantage of a Cal injury to put themselves in a strong position. Could they hold on in the second half or would the Golden Bears roar back to win the game??? You can easily find out by searching the internet OR YOU COULD WAIT UNTIL THE 2ND POST COMES! Your choice. I won't take it personally.