March 27, 1998
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Cal emerged 23-18 winners of a tense and physical rugby match against British Columbia, Friday, due largely to their heart and courage on defense.
The Bears' win avenges a 17-17 draw between the two teams in Berkeley last month, a game where the Cal team notably underperformed, and secures the 'World Cup' for a second year.
If the Cal rugby team were determined to improve after February's clash, so were the British Columbia side playing their last game of the season. The Thunderbirds buckled the Cal scrum early to send their No. 8 in for the game's first try. They also took away line-out balls that should have gone to the Bears.
Cal answered with a try by center Deron McElroy, set up after wing Nic Sliffe's determined chase of a Cal kick forced a turnover by the BC defense. The Bears pulled ahead thanks to two tries by No. 8 Shaun Paga. On both occasions, the Thunderbird's defense expected the scrum move, but couldn't stop Paga who beat three tackles on the way to the line. The second of his two tries saw the Cal 8-man charge more than 20 meters to score.
UBC launched a sustained come-back in the second period and Cal survived two protracted defensive series on their own goal line. Late in the game British Columbia had a series of attacking scrums only 5 meters from the Berkeley line when a try would have tied the game, and a conversion put them ahead. But the Bears' defense held as player after player made do-or-die tackles.
"It was like warfare," said Cal flanker John Taylor, "like surviving in the trenches."
Head coach Jack Clark was elated with the win: "We played some passionate rugby and we played some great defense." But he reminded his players that the squad faces another game tomorrow against Simon Fraser and a major challenge from University of Victoria on Sunday.