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Cal Rugby Punches Ticket To National Championship

April 22, 2023
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BERKELEY – California rugby defeated Brigham Young 55-31 on Saturday afternoon in the national semifinals of the D1A National Collegiate Championships. The Golden Bears will now advance to the finals on May 6 in Houston where they will take on the U.S. Naval Academy in pursuit of the championship title.

“Congratulations to BYU on a really fine season,” Cal head coach Jack Clark said. “Proud of our boys for advancing.”

Cal came out strong on the attack and sent senior No. 8 Alex Aguero past the tryline for a score just two minutes into the contest. Senior co-captain Max Schumacher added the extras to make it a 7-0 advantage. The Bears built upon the momentum and put another try on the board at minute five when freshman center Rand Santos carried a ball in for a score.

BYU answered with back-to-back tries of its own at minutes 14 and 24, one of which it converted successfully to level the score. Cal struck again, this time pulling ahead when sophomore center Kealan O’Connell found space and dotted down in the tryzone. Schumacher successfully converted. Three minutes later, the Cougars caught up with a converted try of their own to make it 19-19 at halftime.

The Bears came back from the break and took only six minutes to send a score in with senior wing Max Clark to make it 24-19. The Bears never gave up their lead for the remainder of the match. Freshman scrumhalf Solomon Williams was next to step his way into the tryzone for five and Schumacher added the extras.

Senior co-captain Nathan Zylstra came off the bench at minute 50 and made an immediate impact, carrying a ball in from the back of a maul just three minutes later. This was the first match back for the senior stalwart, who has been out due to injury since the middle of February.

At minute 64, Cal was awarded a penalty and Schumacher took the three points off his boot to extend the Bears’ lead. Five minutes later, BYU scored a try from a breakaway run and converted to collect their first points of the second half.

Cal worked its way down into Cougar territory after the restart and at minute 73 was awarded a penalty try due to an illegal tackle. Only five minutes later, Santos found space and took a huge run from Cal’s 22 and carried in his second score of the day right between the posts, making way for Schumacher to convert with ease. In the final minute, the Cougars managed to score an unconverted try, but at the expiration of the 80 minutes Cal claimed the victory.

Cal will now have two weeks to prepare for the national championships. The match will be contested at AVEVA Stadium at 6:30 p.m. local time. Information on how to secure tickets and where to watch the match is to come.

Scoring Timeline:

Cal vs. BYU

2:00 – Aguero 5, Schumacher 2

5:00 – Santos 5

14:00 – BYU 5, BYU 2

24:00 – BYU 5

30:00 – O’Connell 5, Schumacher 2

33:00 – BYU 5, BYU 2

Half: Cal 19, BYU 19

46:00 – Clark 5

49:00 – Williams 5, Schumacher 2

53:00 – Zylstra 5, Schumacher 2

64:00 – Schumacher 3

69:00 – BYU 5, BYU 2

73:00 – Cal 7 (Penalty Try)

78:00 – Santos 5, Schumacher 2

79:00 – BYU 5

Final: Cal 55, BYU 31

Starting XV:

1. Emilio Shea 2. Cade Crist 3. Charlie Walsh 4. Pat Deely 5. Tom Dixon 6. Luke Freeman 7. Cal Liebowitz 8. Alex Aguero 9. Solomon Williams 10. Max Schumacher 11. Max Clark 12. Rand Santos 13. Kealan O’Connell 14. Evan Weigold 15. Joe Kirsten

Substitutions:

45:00 – Will Shankland

50:00 – Nathan Zylstra

60:00 – Hugo Schreuder

69:00 – Alex Brundage, Nate Salter

76:00 – Mats Dodd

78:00 – Caleb Tomasin

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