June 3, 2011
Live TV Coverage:
BERKELEY - National collegiate champion California travels to Philadelphia June 4-5 to compete in Rugby Sevens, beginning with pool play Saturday in the 16-team invitational at PPL Park.
The Golden Bears face Ohio State at 10:20 a.m. ET, Louisiana State at 2:10 p.m. ET and Penn State at 4:06 p.m. ET in Pool A, with live TV coverage broadcast locally of the Bears against the Tigers at 11 a.m. PT on VERSUS followed by Cal against the Nittany Lions at 1 p.m. PT on NBC.
Should the Rugby Bears advance to the championship semifinals on Sunday, June 5, Cal would kick off at 11:47 a.m. PT on VERSUS. The final is slated for a 2:19 p.m. PT start on NBC.
The event offers the Bears their second foray into the same format that will be employed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where, should the U.S. qualify, today's players could be competing for their country. The USA was the gold medalist at the last two Olympics that included rugby, 1920 in Antwerp and 1924 in Paris, with six Golden Bears between those two teams.
The Sevens format features seven-minute halves (with 10-minute halves in the final), three-man scrums and a wide-open style. The rules are otherwise the same as 15s with two notable exceptions: all conversions are taken as drop kicks and the team that scores makes the ensuing kickoff to restart play (just as in gridiron football).
Last year, in the tournament's first year, Cal rattled off five straight wins and outscored the opposition 157-7 to reach the final, where the Bears and Utah battled to a 26-26 deadlock after regulation. The Utes came away with the tournament title when scrumhalf Don Pati scored a try in overtime to give Utah a 31-26 victory.
Cal and Utah once again rank at the top of their respective pools, with the Utes joined by Boston College, Notre Dame and Dartmouth in Pool B. Pool C features Army, Navy, North Carolina and Central Washington, while Pool D consists of Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Temple. The top-two teams from each pool advance to the championship quarterfinals on Sunday.
Cal begins its 7s weekend against Ohio State, which advanced the quarterfinals of last year's tournament before bowing out against Arizona. The Bears last faced the Buckeyes in the final of the 2005 Cal Invitational, which Cal won, 58-6.
The Bears played the Nittany Lions more recently in the 2010 national collegiate quarterfinals, where Cal defeated Penn State, 61-19, with two tries each from Tom Rooke and Blaine Scully. Penn State also participated in last year's 7s tourney but went winless for the weekend. The Nittany Lions had a 5-2 record in the East region of the College Premier Division in 2011, finishing behind Army and Navy.
LSU is new to the 7s tournament this year and has never before played the Bears in rugby. LSU did visit Witter Rugby Field for the 2009 national postseason, beating Utah, 47-5, to advance to the quarterfinals before falling to San Diego State, 44-30, in the Round of 8.
Tickets to the June 4-5 event at PPL Park are available by logging on to USASevensCCI.com or by calling 800-298-4200. For group sales, call 215-389-9543.