Cal Rugby is back on the top of the collegiate rugby 15s world again! This is the Bears' first 15s championship since 2011 (Bears did not compete in any kind of championship in 2012 which forced the creation of this Varsity Cup championship, which is separate from the USA Rugby D1A championship). In the 4th year of the Varsity Cup, the Golden Bears have finally defeated BYU (every Varsity Cup final has been Cal vs. BYU), and they accomplished this feat on the BYU home field as well.
Despite being undersized and a heavy underdog (I know that's an odd description for Cal rugby), this Golden Bears squad got the job done with a late comeback - playing a brilliant last 10 minutes of the match. This was a Cal rugby victory for the ages.
(Cable access required - but you can rewatch the entire game on demand)
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
2016 Varsity Cup Championship Game: California Golden Bears at BYU Cougars
Where: Provo, UT
When: 1 pm PT
TV: NBC Sports Network
The Golden Bears (19-2) will face the daunting task of beating BYU (22-0) at their home to win the Bears' first Varsity Cup title in school history. Since the Varsity Cup (recently sponsored by Penn Mutual who also sponsor the Collegiate Rugby Championship - the rugby 7s tournament that will take place a month from now on June 5th-6th from just outside Philadelphia) was started by basically the Bears and BYU in 2013, the two rugby powerhouses have played for the title every year. Sadly, BYU has won all of these championship finals (which is 3-in-a-row).
Other than 2014 when BYU won by 10 points, all the games have been decided by one score.
2013: 27-24 BYU (won on a last second drop kick)
2014: 43-33 BYU
2015: 30-27 BYU
Given the fact that the Bears have to break in a few new players, this is not exactly the strongest Cal squad of recent history. Bears have had a tougher time making it to this final than in the past year. After routing Texas in the opening round, Bears just edged Army 41-29 (match was very close with the Bears trailing until late) and Central Washington 14-13 in the semifinals (but maybe we should also credit Army and Central Washington for raising their quality of play). Meanwhile BYU has rolled into the final, beating Arizona State, Dartmouth, and Arkansas State.
This is also an year that saw the Bears suffering a 50-3 road loss to University of British Columbia (they also beat the Bears 20-15 in Berkeley).
CalBears.com has an excellent look at both Cal and BYU in this one:
Injury also has bitten the Bears - Harry Adolphus, better known to some Cal fans for his stint on the football team this year as a punter, is out for the championship final after being injured in the Army game. Bears will get the experienced Patrick Barrientes back, however, who had missed a few key matches.
BYU are the clear favorite in this one.
I think our sturdy Golden Bears are the clear underdog in this match, but a few clean executions and a bounce of the ball here or there, maybe this is our year after all.