Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cal Ready For World Series Match Against UBC

By Derek Sagehorn

The University of California Golden Bears play hosts to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the first round of the World Cup Saturday February 5 at 11:00 am Pacific. Named after the defunct Vancouver World newspaper, the World Cup is awarded to the side with the higher aggregate points in two home and home matches. In 2015 visitors ruled, as the Thunderbirds won 19-6 in Berkeley and the Golden Bears prevailed 23-21 in Vancouver. The thirteen point difference in Berkeley fueled UBC to a World Cup win; they will seek to replicate that effort on Saturday.

For their part, Cal will be eager to defend Witter Field and secure an easier path to World Cup victory. After a narrow loss to Brigham Young University in the Varsity Cup Final and the departure of recently selected national team members Alec Gletzer and Jake Anderson, in addition to talismanic loose forward Carl Hendrickson to Olympic Club, Cal will look to retrench at several positions.

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The Dennis Storer Classic at UCLA allowed head coach Jack Clark to experiment with fresh and untested faces, culminating in a 38-0 defeat of UCLA. On January 30, Cal blanked Cal Poly 79-0 in San Luis Obispo. In the buildup to the match against UBC, Harry Adolphus appears to have taken the 15 shirt and kicking duties from the departed Anderson. The emergence of additional centers in Billy Maggs and Jesse Milne have allowed All-American Anthony Salaber to line up at outside center, creating matchup problems out wide.

The fresh faces will have their hands full as the Thunderbirds are riding a 10 game win streak, including a 2-0 record in the British Columbia Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League. Those wins include victories over the University of Victoria Vikings and the Seattle Saracens, the latter regarded as one of the premier American club rugby sides. Not only have they beat their opponents, but have done so by a high number of tries. In addition, center/wing Brock Staller has proved an accurate goalkicker, with the potential to punish infringing sides.

The Thunderbirds will be missing a few key components, however, with hooker Alex Mascott on duty with Canadian Americas Rugby Championship side. It is unclear whether UBC will travel with Canadian U20 players Foster Dewitt, Nakai Penny, Cole Keffer, Phil Berna, and Theo Sauder will travel to California given their match scheduled against the American U20 squad in Texas the following week.

With classes back in session, a good crowd should be fill into Strawberry Canyon to witness the first home game of the season, and this first leg of the World Cup. The match will be televised on the Pacific 12 sports network. 

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