Saturday marked the league debut of Stanford’s second team, the Crawford XV. The team is named in honor of Jen Crawford, Stanford Rugby hall of famer and former Eagles captain. In the opening game, the Crawford XV carried forward the intensity and vast progress they’d been displaying in practice into their first league game by defeating Cal. Both teams had slippery starts as the wet weather resulted in inconsistent passing and ball handling. Cal came close to scoring on several occasions, but Stanford’s persistent defense pushed them back from the goal line. Finally, Stanford cleaned up their play, utilizing strong support lines, quick hands, and spreading the ball wide to score their first try on the right wing. Showing great focus, Stanford sustained this momentum and immediately scored again on the left wing upon receiving Cal’s kick. They went into half time holding the Bears scoreless.
In the second half, Stanford continued to exhibit impressive speed and footwork with an additional 3 breakaway tries. Another try was later scored with a strong break through the middle by Stanford’s fullback. Nonetheless, Cal picked up their play and refused to let Stanford wrestle the game away from them. They responded aggressively with 2 tries of their own. Ultimately, however, Stanford tamed the Bears and prevailed 36-12.
On an overcast Saturday morning Stanford hosted its first league game of the season against UC-California Berkeley. Stanford had defeated Cal 26-10 just one week prior in a 40-minute semi-final match during the Stanford Invitational Tournament. However, Cal had a good side and not all of their starters played in that game. Stanford knew that this match would be tougher than the last. Stanford came out strong and earned an early lead, scoring two tries within the first 12 minutes of the match. Leading 14-0, Stanford then lost the momentum due to multiple penalties and Cal’s utilization of their kicking game to put pressure on Stanford’s back three. With an advantage on Stanford’s 5-meter line, Cal brought it in for a try. Seconds before the end of the first half Stanford was held up three times in the try zone through a tremendous effort on the part of the Bears defense. At halftime, the score stood at 14-5.
After the first half, Stanford was magnificent. They sorted out their complacent attitudes and began to attack the Cal defense, creating a much more controlled and high intensity second half. Cal was shut out in the second 40-minutes as Stanford proved to be a much more dominating force, scoring 46 more points. Finishes came primarily from the Stanford back three. Hard work and good clearing out from the forward pack allowed for the Cardinal to maintain a high level of play. Stanford won 60-5. Stanford will play its next match at home against Humbolt on February 10th.
What was expected to be a long and cold weekend, as teams showed up to a frost covered Steuber Rugby Field at Stanford University, turned out to be a perfect rugby weekend. This past Saturday and Sunday Stanford hosted its annual Stanford Invitational Tournament bringing together eleven teams from around the country to compete. Rugby women and fans filled the bleachers representing their teams ranging from UCLA, UC Davis, Chico State, Cal, Humbolt, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, BYU, Colorado and Wyoming. Saturday was a full day of rugby with two games going on simultaneously from 8am- 4pm. Each team was guaranteed three forty-minute games in their respective pool and then placed in playoff brackets according to their seeding. Three teams emerged from pool play undefeated: BYU, Stanford and Chico State. On the basis of points scored, BYU took first place followed by Stanford and Chico State; however BYU was placed sixth because they would not be playing on Sunday, bumping the other two teams up a seed going into the playoffs. These teams were followed by UC Davis, Cal, and Colorado, each with one loss falling into third, fourth and fifth seeds respectively. The seventh through eleventh seeds were filled by UCLA, Wyoming, Humbolt, Oregon State (OSU) and Oregon. In the first round of playoffs #9 Humbolt upset #8 Wyoming by one try finishing 10-5 and moving on to play Stanford in the quarterfinals. #7 UCLA decisively beat #10 OSU 36-12 to also move on to the quarterfinals the following day.
On Sunday the quarter finals were no surprise with all four of the top seeded teams emerging victorious and three out of the four games being shut outs. In the 9th place game Wyoming defeated OSU 12-0 to end their tournament play. These games were followed up with the first round of semi-finals which ended with #1 Stanford holding off a tenacious #4 Cal 26-10. This game was a hard fought battle from the beginning and ended with a strong defensive effort by Stanford once Stanford’s fullback and outside center were taken out of the game with yellow cards for over ten minutes. Simultaneously on field two #2 Chico State resolutely defeated #3 UC Davis in a 19-0 shut out advancing to the championship game. Colorado beat Humbolt later in the afternoon by a conversion 7-5 cementing a 7th place finish. Concurrently, the biggest upset of the tournament occurred in the 5th place game. A #11 seeded Oregon came out strong to win its only game of the tournament beating # 7 UCLA 20-7. The third place game brought two very strong teams together resulting in #3 Davis beating #4 Cal by a penalty kick 8-5 with time expired in overtime. The finals took place at 2:00 pm on the main field with both teams extremely enthusiastic. After forty minutes of quick-paced and physical rugby #2 Chico State was unable to break through #1 Stanford’s defense to put them on the scoreboard and Stanford finished the tournament with a 19-0 shut-out as tournament champions. Once the game ended, Stanford head coach, Jonathan Griffin, thanked all the teams and fans for coming and participating in the tournament. A plaque presentation was made by referee Dave Williams to Stanford University along with gold medals and silver medals to runners-up, Chico State. Two MVPs of the tournament were named and received gift certificates to Nordstrom. The forward MVP of the tournament went to Chico State’s Tara McBride, and for the backs, UC Davis center Veronica Shawnego. Another successful tournament resulted and all teams left having learned a lot from this experience and already excited for next year.