Longtime PAC favorites, the California Golden Bears (12-0, 6-0 PAC), lead an eight-team field of Pac-12-member universities in points (+96) and try (+15) differentials, sweeping pool play Saturday in the two-day 2018 PAC Rugby Sevens Championship.
California routed its Pool B competition at home on Witter Rugby Field. The Bears entered the conference championship undefeated in two earlier sevens tournaments this fall at the West Coast Sevens in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and San Francisco’s Treasure Island.
In its first match Saturday, California shut out its archrivals, the Stanford Cardinal, 50-0. Sophomore center Adam Roeske earned the first score for the Bears in the first minute. Roeske ended the match with four of the team’s eight tries—underclassmen Kevin Saunders and Jason Severance (two) and junior Ken Kurihara also contributed to the scoreline with tries.
.@CalVarsityRugby flourished on their home turf, securing a spot in the #Pac7s championship round.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 3, 2018
It's the @OpusBank #12Best Moment! pic.twitter.com/SBdL8oBrER
The Bears then defeated the USC Trojans 43-7 in the seventh match of the tournament. Fans in Strawberry Canyon thought they were in for another California shutout as the Bears entered the half at 19-0, but the Trojans would save face with a try and conversion in the last minute of regulation and avoid getting blanked.
California was finally tested in their last Pool B match against the UCLA Bruins. After giving up three tries and conversions to California in the first half, the Bruins rallied in the second half scoring three tries—two in the last two minutes of regulation. Despite their heroic effort, UCLA lost 19-26.
The Arizona Wildcats also emerged undefeated with victories over the Arizona State Sun Devils (38-0), Oregon State Beavers (26-5) and Utah Utes (31-12) in Pool A play.
Arizona faces UCLA at 10:45 a.m. PT in the first semifinal match Sunday. California’s semifinal match against Arizona State follows at 11:10 a.m.
Arizona and California are expected to meet in the championship match on Sunday at 12:50 p.m., a rematch of last year’s final. The Wildcats upset the Bears 31-26 in overtime in 2017.
Sunday championship round matchups at #PAC7s starting at 11:05 a.m.:— Cal Varsity Rugby (@CalVarsityRugby) November 3, 2018
Shield Semis — Oregon State v Stanford and USC v Utah
Cup Semis — Arizona v UCLA and Cal v ASU
Saturday recap later at https://t.co/IDkTKnXNir
The Pac-12 Network will broadcast Sunday’s championship rounds from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PT on its national, Pac-12 Bay Area and Pac-12 Mountain channels. The matches will also be available online on Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now mobile app.
California has won the PAC Rugby Sevens Championship five times. First contested in 2011, the Bears have failed to win the conference championship only once—last year.