STANFORD, Calif. – Overcoming self-imposed hardships bred from turnovers, penalties and disjointed play, a reserve California side scored nine tries to retain the Scrum Axe with a 61-7 victory over Stanford Thursday night at Steuber Rugby Stadium.
The first half began ominously with match-day captain Kenny Bruzzone’s early exit with an injury. Sophomore Patrick Barrientes took over that responsibility as the Golden Bears (7-0, 1-0 PAC) contended with lost set-piece opportunities and out-of-pattern, unsupported attacks.
Amid this disorganization, the scoring timeline evinced the long history between the two universities, as flanker Nick Salaber, a third-generation junior whose grandfather, Rob Sr., ran track for Cal, and father, Rob Jr., also played rugby for head coach Jack Clark, scored three first-half tries, the first off a pass from his brother, sophomore Anthony Salaber, who scored two tries of his own.
Stanford (1-4) got its try in the 46th minute from outside center Chris Sebastian with the conversion by Drew Lexmond.
“A Big Game is a Big Game,” said Salaber Jr., Nick and Anthony’s father, who also coaches the Dixon Youth Rugby Club. “I can’t tell you how proud I am that my sons are carrying on that tradition. It’s such a source of pride, a lot of history, and to see them play for coach Clark as I did is great to see.”
A calm evening under a bright moon marked the latest chapter of the oldest intercollegiate competition between Stanford University and the University of California, a rivalry that, despite its lopsided recent history, pays respect to the fierce competition and high achievement that both programs have put forth and earned over their total histories dating back to the late 19th Century.
Thursday’s win was the 19th straight by the Rugby Bears over the Cardinal in the match for the Scrum Axe. Stanford’s last victory over Cal came in 1996.
Cal travels back to Berkeley to host the first leg of the annual “World Cup” series against the undefeated University of British Columbia Saturday at 1 p.m. on Witter Rugby Field, beginning a two-match competition since 1921 that is decided by total points scored and named for the Vancouver World newspaper.
The Scoring Timeline vs. Stanford
40:00 Nick Salaber 5
Halftime Score: California 33, Stanford 0
46:00 Stanford (Chris Sebastian) 5, (Drew Lexmond) 2
Final Score: California 61, Stanford 7
The Team vs. Stanford
15. A. Salaber (Thornton @ 51:00), 14. Hess (Guiraud @ 51:00), 13. Barrientes (Quimson @ 61:00), 12. Welch (Todd @ 40:00), 11. Shaulis (Chipman @ 51:00), 10. Howells, 9. Dunne, 1. Walsh, 2. Haynes (Ogburn @ 40:00), 3. Baylor, 4. Purdy, 5. Bowman, 6. N. Salaber, 7. Bruzzone, 8. Sweet (Simons @ 51:00)