For most sports teams, a season featuring a myriad of lineup changes, roster adjustments and untimely injuries usually results in struggles and a decrease in quality play.
Since the end of the 2016 season when it captured the national title, the Cal rugby team has been hit with it all — the loss of several talented upperclassmen, numerous lineup rearrangements and the loss of key players to long-term injuries.
But somehow, the Bears find themselves in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship semifinal against Penn State, just two wins from capturing a second-straight national title.
The injuries and lineup uncertainty have definitely caused some problems for the team over the course of the season. Well-known for its ability to dominate the possession battle with clear and decisive passes, runs and strategy, Cal has shown some uncharacteristic lapses in execution. Against Saint Mary’s, the team’s defense collapsed late and allowed the opposition to snatch a win from Cal.
But after a comprehensive 71-7 beatdown of Clemson in the quarterfinal that displayed the team’s high caliber on both sides of the ball, the Bears look poised and ready for their upcoming challenge against a very dynamic Penn State squad.
Defensively, it will be a tough assignment to contain the Nittany Lions’ potent mix of athleticism and skill. Cal must be ready to be efficient and productive on the offensive side in order to stay ahead.
“One thing that jumps out is to look after our possessions, and if we hang on to the ball, we have…
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