What has become something of a January rite of passage takes place this weekend as the Dennis Storer Classic kicks off the college rugby season in California.
Originally formed as a competition for Pac-12 teams, the Storer Classic (named after former UCLA and USA Head Coach Dennis Storer) is now a tournament for University of California system schools.
This weekend, UCLA once again hosts, with Cal the favorites once again (they have won every single Dennis Storer Classic usually fairly comfortably). UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara UC Riverside, and UC Davis also join the tournament.
The teams will play four games each, with Cal playing the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, UC Davis Aggies, and UC Riverside Highlanders on Saturday, and then the UCLA Bruins on Sunday.
The Bruins play San Diego, Riverside, and Davis on Saturday.
Cal Head Coach Jack Clark will use the tournament to test some players and see who can perform at a varsity level.
“It’s a ‘fill the bus’ travel weekend. Fifty-plus guys could potentially see action,” said Clark. “We are interested in seeing as many players compete as possible and also interested in limiting the early-season minutes on some of our more established campaigners.”
The Dennis Storer Memorial Trophy will be presented by Dorothy Storer, the widow of the former UCLA head coach who was the USA's first head coach in the modern era, starting in 1976.
Last year at this event, Cal earned its eighth straight Storer Classic title with a 29-7 win over UCLA on tries from Seamus Kelly, Jared Braun, Alec Gletzer, and Max Shaulis. The try and conversion by Bruin Ben Francis were the only points allowed by the Bears all weekend.
This year's tournament also begins the 80th year of the UCLA rugby program. The team recognized the contribution of legendary coaches James Shaeffer, Norm Padgett and Ged Gardner, who were the pioneers of building rugby at UCLA.
“UCLA is delighted to host this important event and connect with our partner schools on the field in the memory of Dennis,” UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart said. “Both Dennis and Dorothy Storer have played a positive and important role in so many lives of the people that they have known.”
Dennis Storer Classic College Schedule
0920 UCSB v UCD
1010 UCSD v UCR
1100 California v UCSB
1150 UCLA v UCSD
1240 California v UCD
1330 UCLA v UCR
1420 UCSB v UCSD
1510 California v UCR
1600 UCLA v UCD
1150 UCSB v UCR
1240 UCD v UCSD
1330 UCLA v California
(Additional reporting from Cal Rugby and Linda Stewart at UCLA)