Sept. 12, 2012
BERKELEY - The Golden Bears head to Ohio State for the Buckeye 7s Invitational Friday and Saturday with a mixed team of three true freshmen, three sophomores and six players overall who are set to make their first appearances in seven-a-side rugby for California.
Cal faces Notre Dame at 5:40 p.m. ET on Friday evening, followed by Navy at 7:30 p.m. ET and Ohio State at 9 p.m. ET at the university's Beekman Park (webcast live on Ustream.tv). Saturday's finales are at 9 and 9:30 a.m. ET at Lincoln Tower Park, located just south of Ohio Stadium.
"We don't really know what to expect from the other teams other than they are similarly talented and well coached," said head coach Jack Clark. "I want our Cal team to have a solid start and to improve over the course of the two days. I want the standard of our play to be our focus, not just chasing tournament victories."
Clark's roster choices reflect an ongoing pattern to offer opportunities to a wide cross section of the team within the always-fierce intrasquad competition for playing time.
"From a selections standpoint this travel squad gets the first crack," he said. "We will enter two teams at Cal Poly in three weeks time and continue to mix things up as we work towards the PAC Rugby Sevens championship in November."
Six selected players -including then-freshmen Andrew Battaglia and Eakalfi Okusi and then-sophomores Jake Anderson and Paul Bosco - helped Cal beat the Irish, 29-0, and Midshipmen, 21-10, at the 2012 Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s in June on national television. The Bears earned a bronze medal at the 2012 CRC 7s playing the same format of the game scheduled to return as a medal sport to the 2016 Olympics.
The last time Cal played Ohio State in seven-a-side rugby was at the 2011 CRC 7s, where the Bears defeated the Buckeyes, 38-0. That Ohio State team included Nate Ebner, a two-sport student-athlete who is a member of the New England Patriots after being selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Five of Cal's 2012 CRC 7s players are scheduled to make the trip to Columbus this weekend while the trend continues in Berkeley toward building experience.
The three freshmen selected for the Buckeye 7s - Patrick Barrientes, Russell Webb and Cameron Todd - all have some prior 7s experience, with Barrientes previously a member of the High School All-American 7s team and Webb a recent selection for the Hong Kong U-20 7s side. They will be joined by first-time 7s selections Nicklas Boyer, a sophomore who helped the U.S. U-20s win the Junior World Rugby Trophy this summer, and senior Jack O'Beirne.
It will be junior Hunter Frisinger's second all-time 7s tournament and the third for seniors Brad Harrington and Anthony Lombardo in blue and gold. Bosco has three 7s tourneys under his belt and captain Seamus Kelly enters the weekend with four. Fellow seniors Josh Tucker and Andre Coquillard carry two previous 7s tournaments into the competition.
In their brief history of seven-a-side rugby, the Bears are 16-6 (.727) all-time.
2012 BUCKEYE 7s INVITATIONAL
Fri. Sept. 14 at Fred Beekman Park
Sat. Sept. 15 at Lincoln Tower Park