Quality Field for Ruggers in Cal Invite

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This weekend, the Cal rugby team looks to shape up its game for postseason play. For the first time this year, the team will be playing back-to-back games in tournament format.

Coming off their biggest Northern California Rugby Association victory of the season over then-undefeated UC Davis, the Bears are feeling good about their undisputed No. 1 status in the NCRA. But this weekend's Cal Invitational should give the Bears (7-2) a chance to see if they are tournament-ready.

"We created this event to give us back-to-back games early in the season," Cal coach Jack Clark said. "The idea is for development work."

When April rolls around, the Bears will head into the postseason Sweet 16 tournament, in which they will play their first game on a Saturday and play again Sunday, should they advance. So far this season, Cal has yet to play games on consecutive days.

This weekend's tournament will feature four solid rugby teams. The Bears will take on Oregon at 1 p.m. Saturday at Witter Field after Arizona and Dartmouth face off in the tourney opener at 11 a.m. The losers of the first two games will do battle in the consolation match at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the title game between Saturday's winners at 1p.m.

While all three teams Cal could face play good rugby, the Bears are the clear favorite in their tourney.

Dartmouth has historically been one of an East Coast powerhouse, but dropped a couple of crucial games early this year and will likely miss out on postseason play. Nevertheless, Dartmouth could pose a difficult threat.

Oregon is on the cusp of receiving a bid to the Sweet 16 from the Pacific Northwest Region, but doesn't possess Cal's depth and talent.

Arizona is arguably the best of the three teams traveling to California this weekend. The Wildcats are the top team from the Southwest, and should enter the Sweet 16 as the No. 1 team from that region. Although Arizona is a team that could make some noise this weekend, the Bears aren't shying away from the potential matchup.

"I would kind of like to play Arizona," senior Andy Tamayo said. "But Arizona and Dartmouth are both good teams. It should be a fun weekend."

Last year, the Wildcats gave the Bears a run for their money before Cal recovered to pull out a 41-29 victory. Twice in the second half of last year's game, the Bears found themselves behind on the scoreboard, but twice they were able to overcome the deficit.

This season, falling behind has been something that Cal hasn't had to deal with often. But according to Clark, the players' emotions have settled down.

"I don't think that we are riding our emotions very much," Clark said. "This is a determined team, not an emotional team that relies too much on the emotions of the day."

Although this is the attitude the Bears are taking into the weekend, the way they play should be a better indicator of how their emotions are affecting them. After last weekend's must-win game against UC Davis, the Cal players are hoping to play with the same intensity this weekend.

"Winning is the objective here," Tamayo said. "But we're looking to run plays and play the style of rugby that we know how to play."


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