The California Golden Bears defeated the Arizona Wildcats in the 2018 PAC Sevens Championship Sunday. The 33–5 victory in the cup final marks the sixth PAC conference championship for the Bears in seven years.
With the win, California also qualified automatically for the national postseason tournament.
“There’s no better feeling obviously; I’m extremely proud of all the boys and the effort they’ve put in—not only in this tournament, but throughout the whole season,” California captain Nic Mirhashem said after the cup final. “It’s been… a great way to go out and hopefully, these boys get to carry on the legacy.”
California completes its fall 2018 schedule in sevens play with a perfect 17–0 record including three major tournament wins. The Bears’ record in rugby sevens now stands at 169–18 (.904).
“The fall sevens campaign was solid. Contesting three tournaments and winning all three, matters. Importantly, I think we improved and we will need to pick up the sevens improvement in late spring,” California head coach Jack Clark said in a prepared statement.
Rugby sevens features seven-player-squads competing in seven-minute halves as opposed to the 15 players playing 40-minute halves in rugby union. Sevens is the rugby variant contested in the Summer Olympic Games.
The Bears start 15-a-side play on Jan. 26, 2019, against UC Davis at home on Witter Rugby Field.
Road to glory
California began knockout play Sunday with a convincing 36–0 pasting of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Although the Bears fielded a mixed squad, the underclassmen contributed incredibly to the scoreline by notching five of the six tries in the tournament’s first cup semifinal match. Freshman Henry Poon scored two tries in the second and seventh minutes and notched conversions in the second and 12th minutes—scoring half of the Bears’ 24–0 lead into halftime.
Arizona ensured a rematch of the 2017 PAC Sevens Championship for the Bears by defeating the UCLA Bruins 17–12 in its cup semifinal match Sunday.
Motivated to avoid a repeat of last year’s upset defeat, the Bears scored early and often. The upperclassmen showed their leadership by scoring all five California tries.
Fifth-year Zachary Tavenner scored tries in the second and fifth minutes. Senior Elliot Webb also scored two tries—one in each half—and junior Sam Cusano scored a try right before halftime in the seventh minute.
Freshman flyhalf Sam Walsh dutifully tapped in all four of the Bears’ successful conversions—all in the first half—helping to seal the Wildcats’ fate.