Cal Sweeps Into Collegiate Rugby 7s Championship Quarterfinals

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By Cal Athletics
Posted Jun 4, 2017
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017 BearInsider.com


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Cal ruggers celebrate 32nd overall national championship -Photo by Cal Athletics
PHILADELPHIA – After recording three wins and the tournament's highest point and try differentials to complete pool play Saturday at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s, California will play Kutztown at 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET Sunday in the national quarterfinals at Talen Energy Stadium.
Television coverage of Sunday's championship rounds runs from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. PT on NBCSN before culminating from 12-2 p.m. PT on NBC.

The Golden Bears beat Clemson, 33-12, to start their tournament on Saturday, followed by wins over Penn State, 28-19, and Delaware, 54-0, to finish pool play atop the draw after the field was re-seeded for Sunday's cup quarterfinal action. The Bears' +84 point differential and +12 differential in tries scored on Saturday was best across the six tournament pools.

The Bears last faced Kutztown, which finished Saturday's pool play in eighth place, in the final of the 2015 CRC championship.

The other quarterfinalists re-seeded for Sunday's championship bracket at the CRC are Saint Mary's, which finished pool competition in second place and will play Life University, the No. 7 finisher; third-place pool finisher Lindenwood, which takes on Arkansas State, the sixth-best pool finisher; and Indiana, the fourth-best finisher, which plays No. 5 finisher UCLA.

Ten different student-athletes scored across three matches on Saturday for the Blue and Gold, who were led by captain Russell Webb's 43 points on 14-of-16 conversions (.875) and three tries. Jake Goena also scored three tries while Patrick Barrientes, Sam Cusano and Aidan Flynn notched two tries apiece.

If Cal can defeat Kutztown in Sunday's quarterfinal, it will take on the winner of Indiana-UCLA in the semifinals. Should the Bears advance to reach the national championship final, which is slated for kickoff at 1:26 p.m. PT/4:26 p.m. ET, they will have the opportunity to compete for their fifth straight national title in Olympic 7s.

The Scoring Timeline vs. Clemson

04:00 Clemson 5, 2

05:00 Jake Goena 5, Russell Webb 2

06:00 Clemson 5

07:00 Connor Sweet 5, Russell Webb 2

Halftime Score: California 14, Clemson 12

09:00 Sam Cusano 5

11:00 Patrick Barrientes 5, Russell Webb 2

13:00 Russell Webb 5, 2

Final Score: California 33, Clemson 12

The Team vs. Clemson

1. Sweet, 2. Goena, 3. Salaber, 4. R. Webb, 5. Barrientes, 6. Flynn, 7. Cusano

Replacements: Dyer, Gaffney, Tavenner, Fuller

The Scoring Timeline vs. Penn State

02:00 Russell Webb 5, 2

03:00 Penn State 5, 2

04:00 Jake Goena 5, Russell Webb 2

07:00 Jake Goena 5, Russell Webb 2

Halftime Score: California 21, Penn State 12

10:00 Penn State 5

12:00 Sam Cusano 5, Russell Webb 2

Final Score: California 28, Penn State 12

The Team vs. Penn State

1. Gaffney, 2. Mirhashem, 3. Salaber, 4. R Webb, 5. Barrientes, 6. Goena, 7. Cusano

Replacement: Flynn, Tavenner

The Soring Timeline vs. Delaware

02:00 Russell Webb 5, 2

05:00 Aidan Flynn 5

07:00 Christian Dyer 5, Russell Webb 2

Halftime Score: California 19, Delaware 0

09:00 Anthony Salaber 5, Russell Webb 2

10:00 William Fuller 5, Russell Webb 2

11:00 Patrick Barrientes 5, Russell Webb 2

13:00 Zachary Tavenner 5, Russell Webb 2

14:00 Aidan Flynn 5, Russell Webb 2

Final Score: California 54, Delaware 0

The Team vs. Delaware:

1. Dyer, 2. Barrientes, 3. Salaber, 4. Tavenner, 5. R. Webb, 6. Flynn, 7. Fuller

Replacements: Sweet, Gaffney, Mirhashem

Prior to Saturday's action, on Friday, Cal head coach Jack Clark offered a statement on Cal rugger Robert Paylor's injury and the circumstances surrounding it.

"I'm here with our team in Philadelphia at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s [CRC] and I've had several media requests to speak about Robert Paylor and our team's effort to win our fifth consecutive CRC.

The media have been very gracious in allowing me to decline those interview requests, as it is a very difficult time for Robert, his family and our team. I'm hopeful that this statement will begin to provide the information the media and dedicated rugby press have sought.

As has been reported, Robert was injured May 6 in the early stages of our Varsity Cup championship match with Arkansas State. Robert's spinal cord injury has resulted in significant paralysis. He's had an operation to stabilize his spine, after which he battled the onset of pneumonia, high blood pressure and difficulty swallowing, resulting in the necessity of a feeding tube.

Robert's injury was preventable. It was the result of illegal foul play. There is end-goal video footage as well as photography that makes this indisputable. Those materials are now in the hands of USA Rugby, which has opened an investigation into the incident.

Throughout this truly difficult period, Robert has been a champion, battling every day to restore his health in order to be cleared by doctors for the next stage of his rehabilitation.

On June 1, Robert was transferred from his Santa Clara hospital by way of a medically equipped private aircraft to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. Craig Hospital is a world-renowned spinal-cord injury rehabilitation facility.

Throughout this injury, Robert's faith has remained unbelievably strong. He is a courageous individual with an elite work ethic. If anyone can make gains through rehabilitation, it will be Robert.

Our team and university are navigating new ground with a catastrophic injury of this type. We gave serious consideration to withdrawing our participation here at the CRC, but in the end, we decided it was important to meet all of the team obligations we had earlier accepted.

Although we are here in body, our hearts and spirit are with Robert.

I have been asked if we will dedicate our performance at the CRC to Robert. I think the answer is complicated. On one level, rugby is trivial by comparison. We love Robert well beyond a rugby context. Robert wakes up and answers a very difficult bell every day. Rugby's significance pales in comparison to his challenges.

I am proud our players have had the will to push through their emotions and bring this season to a conclusion. I suspect that without Robert's courage, our team would not be able to participate this weekend.
I would like to thank the media again for their understanding of my and our team's limited availability.

We would like to thank everyone for their concerns, hopes and prayers for Robert. He's in for a long road and our team plans to be with him every bit of the way."

Cal rugby takes on Indiana in today's semifinals at noon on NBC. 
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