A combination of veteran and new Golden Bears won a 5th straight Pac Rugby 7s Championship. It is the 5th straight win for all 3 5th year seniors in captain Russell Webb, Anthony Salaber, and Patrick Barrientes.
ASU put up a good fight and it was a 7-7 game with a minute to go in the first half. Freshman fly Sam Cusano scored his 2nd try of the match just before the half. With the referees allowing more rugby in the extra time, Cusano added a 3rd first half try to give the Bears a 21-7 half time lead.
In the 2nd half, a clearly gassed ASU was no match for the Bears.
In the post match interview on the Pac-12 Networks, it sounds like Webb and company may be back for the spring 15s and 7s season. Having those guys back would make the quest to repeat the 15s and 7s double to be that much more plausible.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
One match down and one more to go.
California Golden Bears dominated the first semifinal of this year’s Pac Rugby 7s championship by defeating UCLA 33-5. Freshman Sam Cusano scored the first two tries of the match, thanks to the vision of 5th year senior Russell Webb. Bears jumped out to a 26-0 half time lead (a try by Russell Webb and senior Thomas Robles) and never looked back. UCLA was only able to break the shutout by scoring a try in extra time of the 2nd half after the Cal freshman Andrade added another try.
Golden Bears will next face the winner of the 2nd semifinal between Utah and Arizona State. [UPDATE: ASU dominated Utah 38-0 to force a rematch of pool play on Saturday when the Bears had to come-from-behind.]
Let’s take a break from thinking about Cal Football (and waiting for the announcement for the Big Game start time) to appreciate the dominance of Cal Rugby.
Cal Golden Bears will be seeking their 5th straight Pac 7s title today. Since all 12 Pac-12 teams are participating in this tournament in 2012, Golden Bears have won every single year (Colorado defeated Utah in the first Pac 7 tournament in 2011 which may or may not included the Bears in the field). This year’s tournament is taking place at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
Semifinal 1: Cal vs. UCLA - 11 AM PT
Semifinal 2: Utah vs. Arizona State - after the first semifinal
Final: Winner of semifinal 1 vs. Winner of semifinal 2 - 12:45 PM PT
All semifinal and final matches will be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks
On Saturday, the Bears rolled through pool play with a 24-5 win over Oregon, a 29-15 win over Colorado, and a 40-19 win over Arizona State. 5th year senior Russell Webb and freshman Christian Dyer tied for the Cal scoring lead with 20 points apiece.
Coming off the first Double of winning both the Varsity Cup (Rugby 11s national championship) and Collegiate Rugby Championship (Rugby 7s national championship), the Bears are trying to integrate the vets with the youngsters. Several key 5th year seniors in Russell Webb, Patrick Barrientes, and Anthony Salaber are [probably...I am somewhat uncertain since Rugby is not governed by the NCAA] playing their last couple of competitive matches as Golden Bears, as I don’t believe that they are eligible for their 5th Varsity Cup or CRC play.
Among the new faces, freshman Christian Dyer is the latest star from the rugby powerhouse that is Jesuit High School from Sacramento, CA. The familiar named and looking Elliot Webb is a sophomore that is the younger brother of Russell.
Cal used three different lineups for the three matches on Saturday, the most veteran lineup against ASU features:
1. Robles, 2. Mirhashem, 3. Salaber, 4. R. Webb, 5. Barrientes, 6. Flynn, 7. Cusano
That is 3 5th year seniors in Salaber, R. Webb, and Barrientes down the middle. Thomas Robles is a senior, Nic Mirhashem is a sophomore, Aidan Flynn is a junior, and Sam Cusano is a freshman. Dyer and senior Connor Sweet both started the first two matches of Saturday and couple be in the mix for the two matches today.
UCLA Rugby is, of course, a program that has steadily been on the rise. They have challenged the Golden Bears more and more in both 7s and 15s each year. Frankly, this semifinal bout could easily be a final. Bruins went 2-1 on Saturday. The Baby Bears beat Stanford 39-0, lost to Utah 19-7, before rebounded to beat host Arizona 19-7.
Golden Bears are the only team to go 3-0 on Saturday. Overall, the Bears are 12-1 this fall, with an all freshman-sophomore squad suffered a 12-0 loss to UC Davis. With the Pac 7 being the crown jewel of the fall schedule, expect the Golden Bears to be at their best this afternoon.