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Cal Rugby Cruises to West Coast Collegiate Sevens Cup Quarterfinals

Bears have a perfect start in Pool A, and will face Utah Sunday

Hong Kong international Henry Poon scores a try for the Bears against the Central Coast Athletic Club in the West Coast Collegiate Sevens tournament
Freshman Henry Poon scored the Bears’ first try in the tournament Saturday
Cal Athletics

The California Golden Bears rolled to a perfect start at the West Coast Collegiate Sevens tournament in Treasure Island, earning a berth in the cup quarterfinals on Sunday. U.S. Rugby Hall of Famer Jack Clark’s side notched convincing wins over the Central Coast Athletic Club, Nevada Wolf Pack and USC Trojans to sweep Pool A.

The Bears scored 18 tries and surrendered only four tries in the first day of play—one apiece to CCAC and Nevada and two in the last match against USC.

Notable on Saturday was California Head Coach Jack Clark’s decision to send a single mixed squad. In total 14 different Golden Bears contributed, including an all-underclassmen roster in the first match of the day against CCAC—a 31-5 rout of a side made up of Cuesta College players from San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Last year the Bears finished third place in the tournament fielding only freshman and sophomore players. California last won the West Coast Collegiate Sevens in 2016 with a 38-5 win over the Saint Mary’s College Gaels.

Despite the 3-0 start, California continues to be plagued by last season’s issues with turnovers. In its second match, Nevada scored its sole try in the eighth minute after intercepting a Cal pass. The Golden Bears would win 54-7.

“As a team we are happy to take the wins, but we were not quite where we wanted to be,” California Captain Nic Mirhashem said after day one of the tournament.

In the final match of Pool A play, Coach Clark’s side left its foot off the pedal, allowing the USC Trojans to tie the game with tries and conversions in the fifth and seventh minutes. But the Bears would pull away with more focused play, finishing the day with a comfortable 33-14 victory.

California faces the Utah Utes, Pool D’s runner-ups, at 10:20 a.m. PT in Sunday’s first quarterfinal match. The remaining quarterfinal matches include Arizona vs. Arizona State, UCLA vs. U.C. Davis and Cal Poly vs. USC.

The Golden Bears are expected to meet the Arizona Wildcats in the cup semifinal match at 1:40 p.m. PT. The Wildcats swept Pool C and are the leaders in tries (20) after day one. Arizona placed second in the tournament last year.

The cup final kicks off at 3:40 p.m. PT on Ray Sheeran Field, the home pitch of the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club. The tournament will be streamed live on digital sports network FloSports.