No. 1 Cal Rugby Rolls to a 62-22 Victory Against No. 13 Army
Nine different Golden Bears scored 10 tries in the Cal Invitational tournament
U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame honoree Jack Clark played host to a clash of top-15 titans Saturday in a tournament, dubbed the Cal Invitational, which included the No. 4 Saint Mary's Gaels, No. 5 Navy Midshipmen, and the No. 13 Army Black Knights. Rugby fans at Witter Field enjoyed intriguing matchups of 15-sides that would typically only face-off in the national collegiate championship of the post-season.
The No. 1 California Golden Bears, licking their wounds from their first defeat this season last week at the hands of the semi-professional UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver, Canada, made a statement 62-22 win over the No. 13 Army Black Knights.
"We weren't very good in the first half, but some of that is credited to Army pressuring us into mistakes and turnovers," California Head Coach Jack Clark said in a prepared statement.
Indeed, despite the seemingly lopsided final result, the U.S. Military Academy kept the first half competitive by playing a disciplined and physical game. Army was quick to respond to successful California tries, earning their first five-points in the 12th minute, four minutes after a Sam Golla try and Max Schumacher conversion.
But the tide turned in California's favor in the 35th minute after a score from junior hooker Jack Manzo and another made kick from Schumacher. The Golden Bears maintained their lead from then, ceding only 10 more points to the Black Knights and only in the second half.
With the result, Army continues its losing streak to top-10 teams after falling to the No. 3 Lindenwood Lions (St. Charles, Mo.), the No. 8 Kutztown Golden Bears (Kutztown, Pa.), and the No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish rugby clubs earlier this season.
"We had more definitive moments in the second half where guys were communicating more," Sam Cusano said after the match. The senior wing who led his team in tries-scored also credited his teammates for maintaining their structure and improving their tackling.
In addition to Cusano, eight other Golden Bears contributed to the scoreline with 10 total tries completed and six successful conversions from Schumacher.
The Golden Bears have a special relationship with the Black Knights. Army Head Coach Matt Sherman is a former Golden Bear and co-captain and a four-time national champion coached by Coach Clark. Sherman also earned all-American honors during his time in Berkeley, Calif., and has U.S. National Team caps.
California's last competition against Army was a 50-41 homecoming-day triumph in the 2018 Cal Invitational. After the 2020 Cal Invitational result, California is 39-1 against U.S. military academies under Coach Clark.