One of the best cross-border intercollegiate competitions in North America kicks off Saturday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. on Witter Rugby Field when California welcomes the University of British Columbia for the opening match of the "World Cup" series.
Tickets are free for all Cal students and youth under 12, $5 for students age 12-18 and seniors, and $10 for adults. The first 500 fans to enter Witter Rugby Field on Saturday will receive a Cal rugby sticker.
"It's a really exciting week for us," said head coach Jack Clark. "We appreciate the honor of representing Cal against the Thunderbirds. It's such a privilege to be part of something bigger than oneself. Most importantly, we feel the responsibility to play our guts out."
Begun in 1921 with a trophy from the Vancouver World newspaper to the winner of the two-match, home-and-home competition decided on points differential, the "World Cup" has seen the Golden Bears emerge as the winner 12 of the past 15 years, including a current streak of six straight.
Last year on Treasure Island, four penalty kicks from Thunderbird Carlin Hamstra against two kicked by Cal's Alex Aronson had UBC up, 12-6, before Bears back-rower Danny Barrett found the try zone in the 74th minute and Aronson's go-ahead conversion earned Cal a 13-12 win and one-point series lead.
The Bears are back at Witter Rugby Field after a two-year absence from their home, where Cal (9-0/1-0) has not lost to British Columbia since 2004. The T-Birds (10-0-1) last pipped the Rugby Bears in 2009, a 24-23 battle in Vancouver, where Cal still emerged the "World Cup" series winner on its +15 points differential.
A look at Cal's prospective lineup begins with prop Tanner Mohr, hooker Grant Hyjer and prop J.P. Hurrell, who together have comprised the starting front row for the majority of the season to date. The second row will likely be All-American Brendan Daly paired with junior Patrick Coleman. The back row will be anchored by No. 8 Barrett. With Ahmed Chehade recovering from with an injury suffered against Cal Poly, the starting flankers look to be a pair picked from the trio of Tiaan De Nysschen, Alec Gletzer and Jack O'Beirne.
Freshman Russell Webb or Andre Coquillard could make his UBC debut at flyhalf, pairing with scrumhalf Paul Bosco, while Jared Braun looks to receive the first UBC minutes of his college career with a start at inside center. Captain and outside center Seamus Kelly, a veteran of three prior "World Cups," could be joined on the wings by seniors Anthony Lombardo and Josh Tucker, and/or sophomore Andrew Battaglia, as well as junior Jake Anderson at fullback.
On the other side of the field, the T-Birds' 76-3 win over Oregon State in their Feb. 2 friendly indicates that they are firing on all cylinders and ready for the "World Cup." Graduated from British Columbia is Harry Jones, now with the Canada National 7s Team, but returning is captain Alex Kam, a member of his province's U-23 team in 2012, and fullback Sean Ferguson, who has played 7s for the Canada National Team and was selected for Canada's Americas Rugby Championship team last October.
"World Cup" Series Results, Last 15 Years
T 17-17 (+0) home
W 23-18 (+5) away
Cal wins (1-0-1, +5)
W 37-29 (+8) home
W 18-15 (+11) away
Cal wins (2-0, +15)
L 46-29 (-17) home
L 23-17 (-6) away
UBC wins (2-0, -23)
L 25-27 (-2) home
W 34-11 (+23) away
Cal wins (1-1, +21)
W 47-13 (+34) home
W 28-17 (+11) away
Cal wins (2-0, +45)
L 17-30 (-13) home
W 26-12 (+14) away
Cal wins (1-1, +1)
L 14-18 (-4) home
L 17-26 (-9) away
UBC wins (2-0, -13)
W 15-5 (+10) home
L 17-20 (-3) away
Cal wins (1-1, +7)
W 35-28 (+7) home
L 15-29 (-14) away
UBC wins (1-1, -7)
W 32-27 (+15) home
W 18-12 (+6) away
Cal wins (2-0, +21)
W 35-17 (+18) home
L 22-27 (-5) away
Cal wins (1-1, +13
W 31-15 (+16) home
L 23-24 (-1) away
Cal wins (1-1, +15)
W 39-7 (+32) home
W 41-10 (+31) away
Cal wins (2-0, +63)
W 21-13 (+8) home
W 54-18 (+36) away
Cal wins (2-0, +44)
W 13-12 (+1) home
W 46-20 (+26) away
Cal wins (2-0, +27)
"World Cup" Series, 15-Year Trends
Average Margin of Victory, Match: 13.7
Average Margin of Victory, Series: 22.9
Largest Margin of Victory, Match: 36 (Cal, March 24, 2011, at UBC) Largest Margin of Victory, Series: 63 (Cal, 2010) Smallest Margin of Victory, Match: 1 (Cal, Feb. 18, 2012, on Treasure Island) Smallest Margin of Victory, Series: 1 (Cal, 2003)
Following the match between the Cal First XV and British Columbia, a Bears frosh-soph side will take on Santa Rosa Junior College on Witter Rugby Field.
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