Round 13 Preview: UCLA hosts Dennis Storer Classic, California Conference matches, & MLR crossover exhibition

D1A Rugby: Round 13 Preview: UCLA hosts Dennis Storer Classic, California Conference matches, & MLR crossover exhibition
Photo Credit: Wes Swartz
  • Dennis Storer Classic, A.K.A. the All Cal Tournament, comprising of University of California schools, taking place at UCLA campus in Los Angeles
  • California Conference matchups: #4 St. Mary’s traveling south to Santa Barbara, along with Cal Poly traveling to Phoenix, AZ to play #21 Grand Canyon
  • #5 Navy to face off against MLR’s Old Glory RFC in the pro team’s opening matchup of the year

Dennis Storer Classic (All Cal) Tournament

An early-season 15’s tournament named in honor of legendary UCLA Rugby and USA Eagles coach Dennis Storer will take place this weekend from January 18th-19th, which was originally spurred into creation by UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart some years ago. Not only will a rugby tournament be taking place on the Los Angeles campus, but a Hall-of-Fame dinner will also be on the weekend’s menu, to name the newest members of the Bruins 2020 HOF class:

  • Bill McEnteer (1968 player)
  • Steve Gray (1978 player, 1981 coach)
  • Pierce Cooley (2010 player)

“The beginning of the XV’s rugby season being so close to return a number of UC clubs from winter break, The Dennis Storer Classic helps those California-based teams establish a baseline for the season ahead, offering all teams an opportunity to clock valuable minutes in shortened competitive games to ensure that even the teams with the least amount of experience would play matches at a similar competitive level”, according to Head Coach Stewart.*

Storer, whose tenure as UCLA Rugby’s head coach spanned 18 + years, compiled a daunting 362-46-2 record, coaching the Bruins to 16 Southern California Division Championships, along with 3 National Championships. Storer went on to become the inaugural head coach of the USA Eagles National Team and later served as director of UCLA’s National Youth Sports Program from 1968–1982.*

Legendary Coach Dennis Storer – UCLA Club Sports Website

The tournament will consist of all California based clubs ranging from Men’s amateur, college D1A, D1-AA, D2, and High School programs for a collective gathering of all walks of rugby life. This is a great spectacle of growing the game from the youth into the adult level, with the chance for networking, recruitment and pure celebration of the sport.

The following clubs will be in attendance for the upcoming 2020 Classic along with schedule of games:

California Conference

St. Mary’s College, the #4 team in the nation, will be traveling to southern California facing off against conference rival, UC Santa Barbara this Saturday, January 18th. The Gaels have been an absolute force of a club, more so continuing their powerhouse success this 2019/20 season, not surrendering a single point in their first two XV’s matchups (vs UC Davis & Santa Clara). Santa Barbara, along with every other opponent, will have their hands full in their upcoming matchup with the talent and depth SMC will bring to the table. The Gael’s only two losses, in just as many years, has come at the hands of the Cal Golden Bears, but will see some potential obstacles in this year’s scheduling.

Santa Barbara will begin their 6 game match schedule against St. Mary’s, with early season pressure on the SoCal club. This will not be comfortable matchup for the UCSB side, nor is playing within the California Conference. Any inter-conference matchups this season will be tough to overcome, but watch out for a hungry Santa Barbara team to improve from their 2018/19 season.

In the second and final California Conference matchup this weekend, the unranked Cal Poly Mustangs will be traveling across state lines to Phoenix, AZ to face off against rivals and #21, On The Bubble ranked, Grand Canyon Lopes. This is one of the more anticipated matchups of the Spring 2020 season because of the Fall 2019 buildup prior to this game. Grand Canyon has played multiple preseason matches against Arizona, Northern Arizona, Tempe Men’s Rugby and Arizona State, winning all 4 matches. New Head Coach for the Lopes, Sean O’Leary, will be be sure to have his side ready for the first D1A in-season clash of the 2020 campaign.

While Grand Canyon has done quite well leading yup to this Sunday’s matchup, Cal Poly has gone on an unprecedented tear through their preseason (with stats in picture below), winning all their 7s tournaments and exhibition matchups including: West Coast 7s, CSU Long Beach, Stanford, Chico State, Fresno State, San Jose RFC, and Santa Barbara Academy. Most notable victory this preseason was against Cal University in the West Coast 7s tournament.

This will be quite the exciting matchup, with fireworks sure to be present as these two very strong clubs battle for potential playoff contention in the Phoenix desert. Grand Canyon has boasted a powerful forward pack along with antelope-like speed in their backline, which accumulated a 6-4 overall schedule in 2018/19 losing only to top-20 ranked opponents, twice which fell to St. Mary’s. Cal Poly has showed us stellar improvement thus far in their 2020 preseason, but will be fun to see if they can keep up their incredibly fast style of play against the rising star rivals in GCU.

2019/20 Preseason – Cal Poly Rugby Facebook

MLR / D1A Crossover

This Saturday, the #5 ranked Navy Men’s Rugby team will have an exhibition match against the MLR’s Old Glory DC. Kick off at 6pm at The St. James complex in Springfield, VA. This is a huge opportunity not only for Navy’s players to face off against professional rugby players, but to do it with such a relevant team in the media and news after signing South Africa’s World Cup winning prop, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira. Unfortunately, Mr. Mtawarira will not be available to play this weekend, but nonetheless this experience is monumental across all sporting landscapes with a collegiate club playing a fully professional side, whether an exhibition or not.

The preseason match up was made possible by close ownership ties to the Navy Program, and after an ownership trip to Annapolis last Fall, the agreement was settled in making this idea become a reality. The #5 ranked Navy side will be able to ‘test their mettle’ against these domestic and foreign born professional players. Old Glory is also excited to host the D1A side as the kickoff match in their preseason opening weekend. Kudos to the Annapolis side for taking on this extremely unique challenge in bettering their own players, along with growing the sport within their region and across the collegiate and professional landscapes. If around or in Springfield, VA this weekend, check out OldGloryDC.showare.com to buy tickets for this upcoming match.

Other notable United States sports and teams who have participated in a collegiate/professional crossover matchup (sports.stackexchange.com):

  • HOCKEY – 1980 Winter Olympics, USA vs Russia “Miracle on Ice” (College victory)
  • BASKETBALL – In 1992, a team of college stars was formed to help the U.S. men’s Dream Team prepare for the Summer Olympics in a 20 minute scrimmage (College victory)
  • FOOTBALL – From 1934 through 1976, a preseason match called the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was always played between the previous season’s NFL champion and a team of the previous season’s star college seniors (31 Pro victories, 9 College victories, and 2 ties)
  • BASEBALL – From 2006-2014, 67 crossover matchups have occurred just before the start of official spring-training games (63 Pro victories, 3 College victories, and 1 tie)
Old Glory RFC & Navy Rugby Facebook Page

All Matchups Across the Weekend

DATEAWAYHOMELOCATION
1/18/2020#4 St. Mary’s CollegeatUC Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara, CA
All Cal Tournament
(Teams mentioned in article)
at#19 UCLALos Angeles, CA
Exhibition#5 NavyatOld Glory DC (MLR)Springfield, VA
1/19/2020Cal Polyat#21 Grand CanyonPhoenix, AZ

*Copy-write credit: UCLA Sports Website Article – http://bit.ly/30xeRXB