The "World Cup" rugby series between the California Golden Bears and British Columbia Thunderbirds, one of the best and most time-honored cross-border intercollegiate competitions in North America, resumes Saturday, Feb. 18, on Treasure Island, starting at 3 p.m. PT on Ray Sheeran Field at the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club.
For the second straight year during the Rugby Bears' inability to host home matches at Witter Rugby Field, proceeds from the event will be directed to benefit high-school and youth rugby.
The "World Cup" began in 1921 with a trophy to the winner of the two-match, home-and-home competition from the Vancouver World newspaper. The Bears (9-0 in 2012) have won 12 of the past 15 series against UBC, including a current streak of five straight years.
Last year at Sheeran Field at the "World Cup" opener, Cal came back in the second half to beat UBC, 21-13, on late tries by Tom Rooke and James McTurk, each followed by a clutch, from-the-corner conversion by James Bailes in the rain.
The latest chapter in the 91-year rivalry will see a relatively young group of Golden Bears, with less than half of last year's "World Cup" participants returning, face a similarly challenged Thunderbird team.
Although also young, the T-Birds return loosehead prop Alex Kam as their captain, as well as two players, backs Harry Jones and Sean Ferguson, who were selected to the Canada National Sevens Team that won the Bowl at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas Feb. 12.
"To come down and beat California, as a coach it's my biggest goal," said UBC's Spence McTavish, a member of the British Columbia Sport Hall of Fame. "This series has faced the test of time and is probably the highlight of the season."
So far this year, in addition to their January 36-0 defeat of Central Washington in the snow on the road, the T-Birds dropped a narrow 42-36 decision vs. Old Puget Bay Sound of the Rugby Super League.
The UBC second team, the Braves, lost a close 17-15 match to Oregon State, whom the Cal reserves beat 50-3 at the Dennis Storer Classic.
Cal has continued to improve week by week and hopes to have its best performance so far in 2012 against UBC.
"As I have mentioned before, the long histories of Cal and UBC rugby are intertwined," said Cal head coach Jack Clark. "It isn't really possible to tell our story without reference to the Thunderbirds."
A westbound traffic closure from the East Bay onto the Bay Bridge scheduled for February 17-21 will force drivers from the East Bay to take the Richmond or San Mateo bridges across the Bay and approach Treasure Island from San Francisco (note: be sure to be in the left lane on the bridge from San Francisco to access the Treasure Island exit). Vehicular traffic will be permitted to return to San Francisco westbound or continue eastbound on the bridge from Treasure Island.
The Alameda-Oakland Ferry, Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry and Vallejo Baylink Ferry will run additional ferries from the East Bay to San Francisco during the closure -- visit eastbayferry.com and baylinkferry.com for schedules.
BART trains can also get fans to the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.
From San Francisco, Treasure Island can be accessed by the Route 108 MUNI bus at the Transbay Terminal on Beale & Howard Street near the Embarcadero.
Fans can also opt to take a taxi from the Embarcadero, with a taxi stand located on Drumm Street outside the Hyatt Hotel.
The planned closure could also be postponed due to weather, leaving traffic open fully in both directions; however, once work begins as scheduled on Friday, Feb. 17, it is unlikely to be halted.
For more information and last-minute info, visit baybridgeinfo.org.
Advance tickets to Saturday's "World Cup" opener are available for $10 plus service fee at www.eventbrite.com/event/2937794021. Online ticket purchasers receive their tickets attached to their confirmation emails and must print their tickets to bring to the event.
Tickets purchased at the venue are also $10.
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