Sierra rugby team to battle Cal

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Michael Taylor is well aware of UC Berkeley’s rugby reputation, and Sierra College’s coach is not intimidated. He looks forward to facing the Golden Bears on Saturday when they pay a visit to Rocklin. Fortunately for Taylor, the Bears will send only their sophomores and freshmen to battle the Wolverines. Taylor knows better than to think his team could compete with Cal’s juniors and seniors. “We want to play against the big boys, but (Cal’s) older guys have been pumping iron for a couple extra years,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t have taken that challenge. We want to give them a game.” And Taylor is not conceding defeat. “We’re not going to sign off until the end of the game,” said Taylor, whose rugby roots trace back to his homeland of England. Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. will be a “great measuring stick” for the Wolverines, said John Kimble, Taylor’s top assistant. Kimble is also coach of the Granite Bay Grizzlies rugby club. “We have very talented players. We hope they show they’re capable of playing at the next level,” Kimble said. “This is a great opportunity for them to get on the radar with programs such as Cal’s.” Sierra already appears on the national radar. The Wolverines were ranked 14th in the Division II poll released by Rugby Magazine on March 7. Sierra cracked the top 25 after not being ranked in the Feb. 21 poll. The poll includes two- and four-year colleges. Three California colleges were in the top 15. California Maritime Academy in Vallejo was No. 9, and San Jose State was 13th. Santa Rosa Junior College was No. 21. The top-ranked team is the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Sierra and California Maritime will represent the West region in the Division II playoffs April 2 and 3, Taylor said.