BERKELEY - The "World Cup" rugby series between the California Golden Bears and British Columbia Thunderbirds, one of the best and most time-honored cross-border intercollegiate competitions in North America, resumes Saturday, Feb. 18, on Treasure Island, starting at 3 p.m. PT on Ray Sheeran Field at the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club.
For the second straight year during the Rugby Bears' inability to host home matches at Witter Rugby Field, proceeds from the event will be directed to benefit high-school and youth rugby.
The "World Cup" began in 1921 with a trophy to the winner of the two-match, home-and-home competition from the Vancouver World newspaper.
The Bears (9-0 in 2012) have won 12 of the past 15 series against UBC, including a current streak of five straight years.
Last year at Sheeran Field at the "World Cup" opener, Cal came back in the second half to beat UBC, 21-13, on late tries by Tom Rooke and James McTurk, each followed by a clutch, from-the-corner conversion by James Bailes in the rain.
The latest chapter in the 91-year rivalry will see a relatively young group of Golden Bears, with less than half of last year's "World Cup" participants returning, face a similarly challenged Thunderbird team.
Although also young, the T-Birds return loosehead prop Alex Kam as their captain, as well as two players, backs Harry Jones and Sean Ferguson, who were selected to the Canada National Sevens Team that won the Bowl at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas Feb. 12.
"To come down and beat California, as a coach it's my biggest goal," said UBC's Spence McTavish, a member of the British Columbia Sport Hall of Fame. "This series has faced the test of time and is probably the highlight of the season."
So far this year, in addition to their January 36-0 defeat of Central Washington in the snow on the road, the T-Birds dropped a narrow 42-36 decision vs. Old Puget Bay Sound of the Rugby Super League.
The UBC second team, the Braves, lost a close 17-15 match to Oregon State, whom the Cal reserves beat 50-3 at the Dennis Storer Classic.
Cal has continued to improve week by week and hopes to have its best performance so far in 2012 against UBC.
"As I have mentioned before, the long histories of Cal and UBC rugby are intertwined," said Cal head coach Jack Clark. "It isn't really possible to tell our story without reference to the Thunderbirds."
Advance tickets to Saturday's "World Cup" opener are available for $10 plus service fee at www.eventbrite.com/event/2937794021. Online ticket purchasers receive their tickets attached to their confirmation emails and must print their tickets to bring to the event.
Tickets purchased at the venue are also $10.