Cal won its

Cal Wins Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s

California culminated its unbeaten run through the 2013 Collegiate Rugby Championship with a 19-14 win over Life University in the final for the Bears' first national title in 7s.
By Cal Athletics on Sun, June 02, 2013

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June 2, 2013

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PHILADELPHIA - California culminated its unbeaten run through the Collegiate Rugby Championship with a 19-14 win over Life University Sunday at PPL Park. Captain Seamus Kelly was named MVP of the tournament after scoring the try that proved to be the gamewinner in the Championship Final.

"It says a lot about the team, the guys we brought to Philadelphia and the guys that helped us train for this," said Kelly. "It was important for us to come out with a win as a cap to our year."

Freshman Russell Webb booted the ball into touch at the horn to finalize Cal's quest in its fourth trip to the CRC, at which the Bears got over the hump against a dynamic Running Eagles team that had climbed their way to within five points of tying the contest following Joe Cowley's try and conversion with 48 seconds remaining. But the Bears refused to surrender another opportunity.

"It makes all the hard work pay off," said Webb. "Every minute was worth it."

After it was official, players marked the moment by raising onto their shoulders athletic trainer David Stenger, who tearfully accepted the honor to mark his retirement after 40 years with the team. Few eyes were dry after achieving a goal that had proved elusive dating back to Cal's overtime loss at the 2010 final at the inaugural CRC.

Outgoing senior Danny Barrett played a stormer of a final, scoring the Bears' first two tries after notching a hat trick in the semifinal, and Barrett embraced his teammates including fellow senior Ahmed Chehade after the final whistle to savor their last achievement in blue and gold.

"It was great to win the last game of my last year," said Barrett, the third of three brothers to come through the program in succession. "Seeing my parents afterward was the best and honoring Dave Stenger, for the legend that he is, was right up there too."

"The players deserve to be proud," said head coach Jack Clark. "The resolve they displayed is much of why we play sport."

The Bears and Running Eagles had faced each other in 7s only once before at the CRC in 2012, when Cal defeated Life, 26-7, in the bronze medal match.

On Sunday, Cal knew it would be a toe-to-toe contest and it started ominously when Cal poached possession after kicking off but Chehade was held up in a maul to award possession back to Life. But Life clearly felt the magnitude of the occasion as well, as the sure-handed Colton Cariaga knocked on his first touch of the match, opening the door for Barrett's first score.

Chehade was unlucky to knock on the ensuing kickoff, granting Life a scrum, but sophomore Andrew Battaglia nullified the unfolding threat with his try-saving tackle of Ben Francis, adding another clutch defensive stop to put Life into touch before Barrett's second try gave the Bears a 14-0 halftime lead.

"We've been working for this, putting everything into it, and together, every ounce of effort made a difference," Battaglia said.

Life kicked off to start the second half and had an immediate opportunity when Cal let the ball hit the ground, but the Bears managed to maintain possession and Kelly notched his ninth-minute try. Leading 19-0, Cal yielded tries to Cariaga and Cowley but refused to surrender the lead, leaving the field as CRC champions.

"It feels great," said Jake Anderson. "Great to send the seniors off like that and great to finally get a 7s championship under our belt. It's a close-knit group of guys that looked each other in the eyes during every game we played and said we're not going home losing, and we got the job done."

To get to the final, the Bears found themselves matched up in the semifinals against respected PAC Rugby peer UCLA, which had upset defending champion Dartmouth in their quarterfinal, 19-17, to advance.

The Bruins took early advantage of consecutive knock-ons by Brad Harrington and Kelly when UCLA's Seb Sharpe directed a cross-field kick that Race Noeldner collected for a try, converted by Ben Francis for a 7-0 advantage.

Barrett responded two minutes later with a try and added another in the first frame, with Webb converting the former. Battaglia tackled Sharpe into touch to end UCLA's last threat in the first half.

Barrett notched a hat trick early in the second stanza, but Sharpe scored a try that Francis converted to bring the Bruins to within five points at 19-14. Barrett helped the Bears respond again, offloading a pass after a charge downfield that Webb booted into the try zone and touched down.

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Anderson took over conversions from Webb, who went 2-for-3 against the Bruins, and the junior fullback finished 2-for-2 on his attempts with the last a punctuation mark to a 75-meter try-scoring gallop that was highlighted by his hurdle over Bruin Grant Penney. Tyler Pritchard added a converted try for UCLA at full time before the Bears advanced with their 33-21 win.

Cal reached the semis by defeating another PAC Rugby Conference foe in Arizona in the championship quarterfinals. The Rugby Bears looked to have all they could handle against the Wildcats after the teams traded early tries and Cal entered the half with a narrow 14-12 lead on scores by Barrett and Kelly, both converted by Webb. That gave Cal an edge over tries by UA's Ryan Matyas and Shane Carter after Arizona's Jack Arnold missed his second conversion attempt to allow Cal to enter the break up two points.

The second half was all Cal as Barrett notched his second try and Anderson finished the scoring with his touchdown. Webb missed his final conversion attempt to finish 3-for-4 in a 26-12 victory.

The Quarterfinal Scoring Timeline vs. Arizona:

02:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

04:00 Arizona (Ryan Matyas) 5, (Jack Arnold) 2

05:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Russell Webb 2

06:00 Arizona (Shane Carter) 5

Halftime Score: California 14, Arizona 12

09:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

12:00 Jake Anderson 5

Final Score: California 26, Arizona 12

The Team vs. Arizona:

1. Chehade, 2. Harrington, 3. Barrett, 4. Webb, 5. Anderson, 6. Kelly ©, 7. Battaglia
Replacements: Barrientes, Coquillard, Boyer

The Semifinal Scoring Timeline vs. UCLA:

03:00 UCLA (Race Noeldner) 5, (Ben Francis) 2

05:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

06:00 Danny Barrett 5

Halftime Score: California 12, UCLA 7

08:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

11:00 UCLA (Seb Sharpe) 5, (Ben Francis) 2

12:00 Russell Webb 5, Jake Anderson 2

13:00 Jake Anderson 5, 2

Final Score: California 33, UCLA 21

The Team vs. UCLA:

1. Coquillard, 2. Harrington, 3. Barrett, 4. Webb, 5. Anderson, 6. Kelly ©, 7. Battaglia
Replacements: Boyer, Chehade, Barrientes

The Championship Scoring Timeline vs. Life:

02:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

07:00 Danny Barrett 5, Russell Webb 2

Halftime: California 14, Life 0

09:00 Seamus Kelly 5

11:00 Life (Colton Cariaga) 5, (Joe Cowley) 2

13:00 Life (Joe Cowley) 5, 2

Final Score: California 19, Life 14

The Team vs. Life:

1. Chehade, 2. Harrington, 3. Barrett, 4. Webb, 5. Anderson, 6. Kelly ©, 7. Battaglia
Replacement: Boyer

CRC Sunday Championship Round:
California 26, Arizona 12
UCLA 19, Dartmouth 17
Life 31, Kutztown 17
Navy 22, Penn State 17
California 33, UCLA 21
Life 43, Navy 7
California 19, Life 14


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