California will play its fifth and sixth Pac-12 member opponents this weekend when the Golden Bears visit the University of Arizona Friday, Feb. 3, for a 7 p.m. MT meeting at Kino Stadium, followed on Sunday, Feb. 5, by a clash with the Sun Devils at 1 p.m. MT on campus at Arizona State University.
It will be the first trip for the Bears to Arizona since 2004, when Cal recorded convincing wins over both teams.
With Utah still to come on the Rugby Bears' schedule as well as a rematch with UCLA, Cal (7-0) will have played eight Pac-12-member fixtures during the 2012 collegiate regular season. Arizona, like Cal, has also accepted a bid to play in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s tournament on NBC June 2-3.
The Wildcats are one of the few domestic sides to have beaten the Bears in the last 25 years, defeating Cal, 6-3, at the 1987 San Diego Invitational Tournament. With wins so far in 2012 over ASU and San Diego State, Arizona is a postseason contender whose head coach, Dave Sitton, has expressed his program's "strong commitment to playing Pac-12 games."
Asked whether Arizona supports the development of a traditional conference-based rugby structure, coach Sitton said, "We've been attempting to build our future schedules to make Pac-12 games a priority.
We'd love to host a Pac-12 conference tournament every year and we're kicking it off with this visit by the Bears."
In their last meeting, Cal defeated the Wildcats, 22-3, in a tournament match at the 2011 Dennis Storer Classic.
The Sun Devils, who lost a narrow 26-22 match to the Wildcats in December before beating Claremont Colleges, 57-15, in January, figure to be a similar test for the Bears. Arizona State will be at the Las Vegas Invitational the following weekend attempting to earn the remaining at-large bid available at the CRC.
Arizona State head coach Gary Lane echoed Sitton's hope for a Pac-12-based build-out in college rugby.
"I'm a very big supporter of it," coach Lane said. "We already play Arizona, Colorado and Utah. It would make sense to align ourselves, like our football program, with the Pac-12. We'd support that strongly."
The match at ASU will be the first between the Bears and Sun Devils since 2005, when Cal shut out ASU on Witter Rugby Field.
"We're a better team than we were then," Lane said.
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