California Head Coach Jack Clark’s side found it difficult to stay off the scoreboard in their home-opener. The team outclassed the Aggies — 12 different Golden Bears contributed 22 tries, unsurprising given two-thirds of the starting 15 roster competed in last year’s national collegiate 15s championship final.
“It is never our intention to have a scoreline like that, but it just can’t really be helped in rugby,” Coach Clark said in a prepared statement. “There is no opportunity to take a knee.”
California sophomore winger Marcus Shankland led California with four tries notched in the 9th, 14th, 22nd and 71st minutes. Juniors Christian Dyer and Sam Cusano each added three tries while junior prop Damon Wiley provided a double of his own.
Demonstrating the depth of his roster, Coach Clark swapped in seven players for the second half. Among them was junior Sid Holland who readily found the try zone in the 78th minute.
The standard of rugby
The Golden Bears began its 15-a-side season on Jan. 19 after a perfect 17-0 record, and a PAC Rugby Sevens Championship Cup title in fall sevens play. Cal recently traveled to Los Angeles for the Storer Classic, a weekend rugby tournament hosted by the UCLA Bruins in honor of former UCLA and U.S. National Team Head Coach Dennis Storer.
In abbreviated 40-minute matches, California blanked UC Santa Cruz and Claremont Colleges 43-0 and 68-0, respectively, as 15 different Golden Bears scored on the tournament’s first day.
California conceded no tries in the Storer Classic. However, a converted penalty kick by UCLA just before halftime prevented the Golden Bears from claiming a shutout in their final match.
“We were one pass away from scoring on some of our mistakes, but it’s not just about the scoreline,” California senior hooker Jack Iscaro said after his team’s 31-3 victory. “We’re more interested in the standard of the rugby.”
After a strong showing in the Storer Classic, the Golden Bears ranked No. 2 nationally in Division 1-A Rugby, the highest level of college rugby in the U.S.