Thursday, April 26, 2007
April 21, 2007: Berkeley, Calif.
Cal Bears 51, New Mexico Lobos 3.
I got a call last week from a friend with a similar sports curiosity habit -- did I want to see the Cal rugby team open the playoffs?
Cal Berkeley dominates U.S. college rugby. It has won 15 of the last 16 national championships, and 22 of the 27 since the first one in 1980. It's an impressive record of organizational achievement, even if a cynic might compare dominating of American rugby to being the top team in German baseball.
Cal hosted the opening rounds at Witter Field. It's located in Strawberry Canyon east of the football stadium, and offers a fantastic view of the Bay. The crowd numbered in the hundreds, but the demographics were definitely high
Cal plays rugby union, which gives five points for a try, instead of the four in rugby league. That's about all I learned about the differences, though I can confirm that I am unable to understand the kicking away strategies in either code. In any case, one didn't need to know much rugby to comprehend Cal's domination of the game, though I suppose the Lobos can claim a moral victory for scoring any points at all. I was kind of sad when one of their players busted a long run near the end of the blowout, only to get caught two yards away from a try.
Game report here.
Cal won their next game by an even more ridiculous margin, sending them to the final four two weeks later Stanford.
Audience quote of the day: "The ref's a girl!" She didn't take any crap, either.