California showcased some true grit in its undefeated sweep of Rugby tournament teams en route to winning its second straight Rugby 7s championship over the weekend.
The back-to-back champions hoisted captain Seamus Kelly onto their shoulders after the Golden Bears defeated Kutztown University 24-21 in an exciting matchup that highlighted the two teams’ bruising styles and determinable will to come out of the tournament as the best.
“It’s really special to win this championship alongside the guys and the coaches, and it’s definitely something I’ll take with me forever,” Kelly said after the game.
It’s Coach Jack Clark’s 24th championship win, and Cal’s 28th in their school history.
The Golden Bears and Kutztown both entered their game undefeated, with Cal starting its championship Sunday with a 33-5 rout over Penn State in the quarterfinals. The team had to overcome a strong Bruins squad first, however, with a comeback win that featured a heroic last-minute try by Andrew Battaglia, who finished the tournament with five tries scored and a full account of chase-downs and tackles.
To finish off their opponents, the Bears showcased some trademark tenacious defense when the team needed it most.
“We played to our strengths pretty well and we neutralized a lot of theirs,” Kelly explained. “I thought we were very good at the breakdown and were very physical in defense. We knew that was the hallmark of their game, and we came with a physicality and an intensity that matched them. When you neutralize their best threats and you accentuate your own abilities, you’re going to do well, and I think we did that.”
While the victory is sweet, the captain doesn’t have a lot of time to savor it. He departs for Houston to re-join his mates on the U.S. National squad as they prepare to face Scotland on June 7, the same day head coach Jack Clark will be honored with an induction into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.