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Storer Classic Kicks Things Off in SoCal

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Storer Classic Kicks Things Off in SoCal

Cal vs UCLA from the 2020 Storer Classic, which Cal won.

College action is mostly about tournaments this week as the winter-spring season kicks off in earnest.

The annual Dennis Storer Classic is set for this weekend on the UCLA Campus. Named after the longtime UCLA rugby Head Coach and the first modern Eagles coach, the Storer Classic is a kickoff for teams throughout California. And, of course, you know what we're going to say—pending COVID. One team has already had to bow out because of COVID protocols, but the show will go on.

Here's what we know:

Cal plays UC Santa Cruz and Cal Poly on Saturday and UCLA in the presumptive final on Sunday.

Cal Poly plays UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and Loyola Marymount on Saturday and Oregon on Sunday.

The San Diego Legion U23s are in action and will play Loyola Marymount and one more opponent. Oregon plays UCLA and UC Santa Cruz and one other on Saturday before facing Cal Poly.

This will be an interesting opportunity for Oregon to show the strides they've made. Every year there seems to be discussions about how to bring in more of the PAC-12 schools into a PAC conference. But since the top end of that PAC Conference is pretty strong, and the distances traveled are high, the Pacific Northwest teams have been slow to move. But achieving the right level of competitiveness could go a long way to making that happen at least with the Oregon teams. (Oregon State used to be in the PAC but left because of the factors just mentioned.)

Also, Cal Poly, with new Head Coach Chris O'Brien, will be looking to make an impression. They have a good crop of young players.

UCLA, also, has a new coach. It was supposed to be David Clancy, but he took a job with the LA Giltinis so it's Harry Bennett with Giltini and former Scotland 7s player Adam Ashe, Giltini and former New South Wales Super Rugby player Charlie Abel, and former Lindenwood All American Cristian Rodriguez on the staff. They have some size in the tight five—at least more size than they usually have and capped 7s player Lucas Lacamp in the backs. Watch out for freshman hooker Sammy McMillan, who could make an impact quickly.

And Cal ... well all signs point to Cal being fully prepared and ready for a full winter/spring season.

"I am hopeful we can play some technically organized rugby," said Head Coach Jack Clark. "Our approach will be pretty limited; we just haven't installed much, but we have in enough to win and advance some possessions and play some defense. Demonstrating some basic skill and looking and feeling organized would be a good start."

 The key usually with Cal and the thing that often sets them apart in these types of warmup competitions is their communication. A Cal rugby team is constantly talking and sharing information. They do that effectively, which means you're fit enough to keep talking at the end of the game, then the rest will likely take care of itself.

"We have solid leadership and experience," captain Sam Golla. "We have a lot of experience playing with one another. The more cohesive we are with each other, the better chance we have of realizing our potential."

The Cal Bears, who are expected to win the tournament, were so happy to back in camp and somewhat back to normal that they made a video about it.