Cal Rugby announces a Saturday season opener vs. BYU

Golden Bears have three 15s matches on the 2021 schedule so far

A couple of days after I wrote about my concerns about them possibly not playing any rugby 15s this spring, Cal Rugby has finally announced their 2021 Rugby 15s schedule.

The first match of the season is sooner than expected as the Cal Bears will host the BYU Cougars (1-0-1) on Saturday from Witter Rugby Field.

We also finally have some info on the Cal squad this year:

Cal will be without the services of Henry Poon who is studying this semester from home and All-American Jack Manzo who is out with injury. Returning to the Bears' lineup after a year out with injury is Sam Walsh who will start at flyhalf and, together with senior halfback Ken Kurihara, will direct a fairly experienced back line. Cal will be led in the forwards by the versatile Sam Golla, expected to start in the second row. Having not played in 397 days, Cal will hope to find its spring 2020 form when the Bears were ranked No. 1 in the country before the season was prematurely ended.

Also announced already are matches at Saint Mary’s College on April 17th and vs. Arizona on May 1st.

Cal Rugby was the last of all 30 Cal Athletics programs to have announced their schedule this school year.

D1A Rugby has neither updated its website nor Twitter since 2020. It is not yet clear if there will be a traditional Rugby 15s postseason, what teams need to do to qualify for it, etc. Cal had played in the “PAC” conference with Arizona, UCLA, and Utah. Arizona has played for several weeks already. Utah will host Utah State this Saturday. No news yet on the status of UCLA’s rugby team this season where they are only a club sports team.

Nonetheless, it is encouraging also how SMC, Utah, etc. will also start their season this weekend. The delayed start of the 15s season may impact the typical training transition by Cal to go from 15s to 7s in anticipation of playing in either the CRC or the D1A 7s national championships around Memorial Day.

Cal, the most successful program on campus with 33 national championships between 15s (28) and 7s (5), was ranked No.1 in the country when the entire sports world stopped more than a year ago. It will be very interesting to see just how good the Cal squad will be after 397 days off, but it is also just exciting to hear that Cal Rugby will play again, even if no fans are allowed yet in Berkeley.