Before last year’s surprise semifinal loss to Air Force snapped their twelve-year streak of national titles, the Cal men’s rugby team hadn’t lost to an American squad in seven years. The opponents the Bears have faced this year — most of whom have not scored more than single digits, if they scored at all — would certainly say the Bears still dominate US collegiate rugby. Last season’s disappointing finish means Cal has something to prove in 2004. But where can a team used to doling out crushing defeats find an actual contest? Think red and white. No, not Stanford — try Canada. When the Bears take on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Witter Field, the World Cup is on the line — that is, the Vancouver Daily World Cup, named for the newspaper that donated the trophy in the 1930s. The annual two-game series with UBC traditionally offers some of the toughest competition the Bears will face all season. Last year the rivals traded matches, with Cal holding onto the cup based on their margin of victory.
A cadre of strong rookies joins four All-Americans for Cal, including senior Mike “Big Mac” MacDonald from Orinda (above), who spent the summer playing with the US national team. Tickets at the gate: adults $5, kids 17 and under free. 1-800-GO-BEARS. — Annika Dukes
Let It Snow
Snowshoes and prayer flags
You don’t have to be an experienced snowshoer — you don’t even have to be a woman — to take part in Sunday’s Winter Snowshoe Challenge to benefit the Breast Cancer Fund, at Kirkwood Mountain Resort near Lake Tahoe. More than 150 contestants are expected for the daylong event, which features four separate stomping sessions over eighty kilometers of Kirkwood’s groomed trails, and routes that range from beginner to advanced. Tibetan prayer flags will be flown from buildings as a tribute to breast cancer victims. Registration for the Challenge is $40, which covers snowshoe rental, a light breakfast, a trail map, a snack for the route, and lunch. After the event, join the other contestants for an early-evening fire-pit gathering and prayer flag ceremony. To learn more and to register, visit BreastCancerFund.org/events_snowshoe.htm — Kelly Vance