BERKELEY -- The football team won't be Cal's only representative at Ohio State this weekend.
The Cal rugby program, which has dominated the national collegiate scene for more than three decades, will play in the Buckeye 7s Invitational, a two-day, four-team event featuring the seven-man version of the sport that will debut in the 2016 Olympics.
For the Bears, winners of 26 national titles since 1980 in the traditional 15-man game, this is a fresh challenge. Cal will continue to emphasize the 15s game during the spring season, but this is the first time it will play a regular fall schedule in the 7s.
"There's a bit of unknown, but we're looking forward to it," said Jack Clark, beginning his 30th year as Cal's coach. "I like it. It's growing on me. Part of it is we haven't been the best at it yet."
The seven-man game features seven-minute halves, three-man scrums and a wide-open style on the same-sized pitch as the 15s game.
The Bears play three times on Friday evening, taking on Notre Dame, Navy, and Ohio State. The consolation and championship matches will be held at 9 and 9:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday, just three hours before the Bears and Buckeyes meet on the football field.
The Bears' travel squad will include three freshmen, along with sophomore Eakalafi Okusi, a sophomore from Castlemont High-Oakland.
Cal is a modest 16-6 all-time in the 7s game, compared to 538-70-5 in the 15s.
But with the faster version of the sport set to be played at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, Clark's program has embraced both games. He said the focus of recruiting has changed a bit because the 7s game requires athletes able to function in more wide-open space.
Cal has two former players -- Colin Hawley and Blaine Scully -- under U.S. Olympic Committee contracts, training with the U.S. national 7s team in Chula Vista.
"They're trying to get ready to play in the Olympic Games," Clark said. "We have to be in that business of servicing those aspirations."