VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds will need to rally from a 10 point deficit if they hope to take home the coveted World Cup trophy this Sunday as they play host to the University of California in the second game of the two game annual series. California defeated UBC 28-18 in the opening match at Witter Rugby Field in Berkeley, California on February 16.
The World Cup, named after the Vancouver World newspaper, has been played every year since 1921 and has become one of the most intense cross border intercollegiate competitions in North America. The coveted prize was donated by former Vancouver World publisher John Nelson. The Thunderbirds are in search of their first World Cup since 2006. On the flip side, the Bears have won 13 of the past 16 series against UBC, including a current streak of six straight years.
With a program that was originally established in 1882, California is the preeminent powerhouse in US college rugby. The program has won 26 national championships since 1980 and this year boasts a record of 16-0. In those 16 games, they have outscored their opponents, 1,194-93, hitting triple digits four times, and posting eight shutouts. Their game against UBC earlier this season was their closest margin of victory so far this season.
UBC is 12-2-2 on the year with their only two losses this season coming at the hands of California and Victoria, their two biggest rivals.
"The plan is to take advantage of every scoring opportunity we can, especially early on to try and cut into the 10 point deficit" said UBC head coach Spence McTavish. "This is the first time in a number of years in which we are relatively healthy for the World Cup finale, so I'm eager to see how we will perform."
McTavish knows his group will have its hands full with a big and physical Bears side.
"If we hope to slow them down, we will need to be more efficient then we have been all year with our tackling, especially on first contact," said McTavish. "Obviously if we can keep the ball in our hands and limit their possession, our chances of winning greatly improve."
Game time is 1:00 pm Sunday March 24 at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium.