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11th straight national title for Cal rugby

Daily Planet Wire Services
Monday May 07, 2001

Virginia Beach, Va. – Cal claimed its 11th consecutive national rugby championship on Sunday, overwhelming Penn State 86-11 Sunday. 

The Bears ran in 14 tries, going from average to awesome between Saturday’s semi and the title match. 

“It was a gratifying win for our players and our team,” said head coach Jack Clark. “We certainly got off the gas against the wrong team in the semi-final. We were determined to play 80 minutes of class rugby today, and I think that’s what we accomplished.” 

Cal had squandered a large lead Saturday, eventually edging Navy, 34-27. 

With new resolve and a strong wind at their backs in the first half, Cal sailed out to a 38-6 lead by the break against the Nittany Lions. Prop Mike MacDonald opened the scoring, profiting from the first of many mauls that the Bears drove deep into Penn State’s territory. In  

his last game for the Bears, senior No. 8 Shaun Paga also scored in the first half, but wing Cameron Bunce had the biggest day, finishing four tries total for Cal while flyhalf Matt Sherman scored three. 

Turning into the wind, did not slow the Bears, who scored eight times in the second half. Bunce touched down three in a row in the space of 10 minutes, and with a growing margin, the Cal coaching staff began to make substitutions, giving seniors such as Justin Parkhurst, Kevin Vogeli, and Dan Towers a run in their last collegiate match. 

Of the starting line-up, graduating seniors included scrumhalf Andy Armstrong, fullback John Buchholz, hooker Chris Draper, lock Brian Meux, lock Brian Surgener and Paga. 

“I’m already sad that I won’t be able to coach these seniors again,” said Clark. “They’ve been an extraordinary group of leaders.” 

It was the Cal team’s 18th national championship since the title competition began in 1980. The weekend also marked the 300th collegiate victory for coach Clark, who reached the milestone with Saturday’s semi-final victory over Navy. 

In Sunday’s play-off for 3rd & 4th, Navy prevailed over Army 34-22.