California Golden Bears rugby

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California Golden Bears Rugby
University of California, Berkeley athletic logo.svg
Full name California Golden Bears Rugby
Union USA Rugby
Nickname(s) Golden Bears
Founded 1882
Location Berkeley, California
Ground(s) Witter Field (Capacity: 5,000)
Coach(es) Jack Clark
League(s) PAC Rugby Conference
1st kit
2nd kit
3rd kit
Official website

The Golden Bears have won 26 total championships, including 19 of the last 21. Cal has been dominant in college rugby, winning 26 titles (runners-up once) out of a possible 32 since the national collegiate championships for rugby began in 1980. Current head coach and Cal alumnus Jack Clark took over the team in 1984, and has achieved prolonged success, leading the Bears to 22 national titles, including a twelve consecutive championships from 1991 to 2002 and five more consecutive titles from 2004 to 2008.

Cal also competes in the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC), the highest profile college rugby tournament in the US. The CRC is held every June at PPL Park in Philadelphia, and is broadcast live on NBC. Cal reached the finals of the 2010 CRC, losing to Utah in the finals in sudden death extra time, and finished third in the 2012 CRC.[1]

Cal also competes for the "World Cup," which is awarded to the winner of the annual series between Cal and the University of British Columbia.

Cal Rugby's home is at 5,000-seat Witter Rugby Field, located near California Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon.

History of Cal rugby[edit]

The 1989 Cal Rugby team in possession of the scrum axe.

Rugby union Men's rugby, far and away the most successful of the 30 varsity sports competing under the authority of Director of Athletics H. Michael Williams, is the oldest intercollegiate sport at the University of California.

Cal Varsity Rugby spans 132 years, during which time the Golden Bears, a non-scholarship team, have tested themselves at the highest levels to earn international honors, 26 of the 35 collegiate national 15s championships played in the United States since 1980 and, most recently, its second straight Collegiate Championship 7s title playing the same format of the game that will be contested at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Under the closely held stewardship of only six head coaches throughout its existence, Cal Rugby has developed many of the finest players the sport has to offer, including 127 All-Americans, 45 players who have made 641 combined appearances on the United States National 15s Team, eight Olympians as well as five players who have earned their "Blues" at Oxford.

The success of rugby at Berkeley has hinged on tremendous support from alumni, administration, students, parents and sponsors who have ensured a permanent campus home for Cal Varsity Rugby in the lush environs of Witter Rugby Field and the Doc Hudson Fieldhouse, perched above Memorial Stadium in beautiful Strawberry Canyon.

Today's Cal team continues a legacy that began in 1882, when rugby became the university's first sport played against an outside opponent. The Bears played four games that first year, compiling a 2-1-1 record.

Three years later, in 1885, the rules of the game shifted to those of American football, but in 1906 rugby returned as the school's main fall sport after the administration decided that football was becoming too dangerous. Over the next eight years Cal Rugby posted a 78-21-10 record under the direction of coaches Oscar Taylor and James G. Schaffer.

The year 1914 marked a temporary end to collegiate competition due to the First World War and the return of football as the university's primary fall sport. Rugby did not return to campus until 1931.

During the time athletes could not play for the university, Cal's aspiring ruggers found another arena for competition at the Olympics. The United States Rugby team brought home gold medals from both the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. California student Colby “Babe” Slater was a two-time Olympic gold medalist while seven other Cal players – Charles Tilden, James Winston, Matt Hazeltine, George Fish, Charles Meehan, George Dixon and Ed Graff – also earned Olympic gold.

Graff returned to his alma mater in 1931 to serve as head coach of the Bears until 1937. It was during the Graff coaching era that Cal began competing for the World Cup. Named for the World newspaper of Vancouver, the World Cup became a symbol of the ongoing competition between the University of California and the University of British Columbia, much as the legendary Scrum Axe goes to the victor each year in the annual Cal-Stanford rugby match, a tradition that itself goes back over 100 years.

In 1938, a former Cal student from New Zealand, Miles "Doc" Hudson, took over for Graff and directed the Bears program for 37 years. Doc's teams posted an impressive won/loss record of 339-84-23.

The decade of the '50s saw the Bears compete against the New Zealand All Blacks, the Australia Wallabies and the Oxford-Cambridge combined team. Some believe that Coach Hudson's 1965 group -- whose 5-2-2 tour of Australia and New Zealand included a 25-14 win over Auckland University and an 8-8 draw with Queensland -- is one of the best Cal rugby teams ever assembled. Another strong candidate for best Cal side ever is the 1971 team, which went 5-4 on its six-week tour Down Under, including an 11-9 victory over Queensland University at Ballymore and a 20-17 win against ACT.

When Hudson eventually retired in 1975, former Cal rugger and captain of the 1971 touring team Ned Anderson assumed the reins of the program. When the sport started a national collegiate championship in 1980, Anderson's Cal side was the first to walk away with the national trophy. The Bears went on to win four consecutive national championships.

In 1984 one of Anderson's assistants, former player Jack Clark, succeeded him as the sixth head coach in team history. Coach Clark took the helm after a successful football and rugby career at Cal that was followed by post-collegiate rugby campaigns on the USA National Team. Clark's play as a United States Eagle earned him a spot on the World XV team that was invited to play the Welsh National Team during its centennial celebration in Cardiff, Wales, in 1980.

Jack Clark immediately took Cal back to the top of collegiate rugby after a one-year hiatus in 1984. The Golden Bears were once again crowned national champions in 1985 and '86.

The Bears' current era of success under Clark has included the 2013 and '14 CRC 7s championships, 22 national 15s titles (including 16 of the last 20), an impressive combined record of 34-1 against rugby powerhouses Army, Navy and Air Force in the 15-a-side game; 14 of the last 17 "World Cup" series including seven in a row vs. University of British Columbia; a domestic winning streak of 98 games from 1990-96 and a 70-game tear that lasted until 2003; a winning streak over U.S. collegiate competition that lasted 115 matches between April 2004 and May 2009; and a streak in 15s of 63 straight matches that ran from opening day in 2010 through Feb. 18, 2012.

Clark has also served as head coach for the Collegiate All-America team, from 1985-92; head coach of the USA National Team, from 1993-99; and general manager for the national team, from 1993-2003. He exited his 31st season as head coach as the winningest coach in Cal Rugby history with a 577-74-5 (.879) record in 15s. On June 7, 2014, in Houston, Clark was inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.

The growth of Rugby Sevens, the format in which the sport returns to the Summer Olympics in 2016, has spurred further development in a segment of the game historically played in the offseason and as a pathway to the 15s national team. Although Cal has a long line of former players who have played for the U.S. National Sevens Team, its history of playing collegiate sevens is much shorter.

Since 2010 at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s on NBC, the Bears have compiled a 25-3 (.892) record at that event, with their 2013 and '14 titles title preceded by a runnerup finish in 2010, a quarterfinal showing in 2011 and a bronze medal in 2012. Cal's all-time record in Sevens stands at 80-14 (.851).

The future of Cal rugby relies on today's student-athletes together with their supporters and the continued support of all those who have played a part its illustrious history. Over the last 20 years, a loyal group of Cal Rugby alumni have in large part endowed the sport at Cal through a fundraising effort entitled "Cal Rugby Forever."

Results of this drive have included the construction of the Doc Hudson Fieldhouse, named after the legendary coach, the home of team offices and alumni functions.

A group of stakeholders also funded the construction of Witter Rugby Field, the home pitch for Bears that looks out onto San Francisco Bay. The field is named after the Witter family, 14 of whom -- fathers, sons, grandchildren, uncles and cousins -- have played rugby for the Golden Bears. [2]

National championships[edit]

National Championships (26): 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1985 • 1988 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2010 • 2011

The following table is a list of each of the national championships since 1980 in which Cal has reached at least the semifinals.

1980 Davenport, IA California 15-9 Air Force Academy Illinois Navy
1981 Dayton, OH California 6-3 OT Harvard University Miami (OH) Kansas St.
1982 Greeley, CO California 15-14 Life College Michigan New Mexico St.
1983 Athens, GA California 13-3 Air Force Navy Illinois
1984 Pebble Beach, CA Harvard 12-4 Colorado Long Beach St. Miami (OH)
1985 Pebble Beach, CA California 31-6 Maryland Colorado Illinois
1986 Pebble Beach, CA California 6-4 Dartmouth Air Force Bowling Green
1988 Pebble Beach, CA California 9-3 Dartmouth Air Force Bowling Green
1991 Houston, TX California 20-14 Army Ohio State Wyoming
1992 Colorado Springs, CO California 27-17 Army Air Force Penn State
1993 Houston, TX California 36-6 Air Force Harvard Wisconsin
1994 Washington, DC California 27-13 Navy Air Force Penn State
1995 Berkeley, CA California 48-16 Air Force Penn State Army
1996 Colorado Springs, CO California 47-6 Penn State Stanford Navy
1997 Berkeley, CA California 41-15 Penn State UC Davis Stanford
1998 San Francisco, CA California 34-15 Stanford Navy Indiana Univ.
1999 San Francisco, CA California 36-5 Penn State Navy Army
2000 Tampa Bay, FL California 62-16 Wyoming Army Indiana Univ.
2001 Virginia Beach, VA California 86-11 Penn State Navy Army
2002 Virginia Beach, VA California 43-22 Utah Army Wyoming
2003 Stanford, CA Air Force 45-37 Harvard California Army
2004 Stanford, CA California 46-24 Cal Poly, SLO Navy / Air Force
2005 Stanford, CA California 44-7 Utah BYU / Navy
2006 Stanford, CA California 29-26 BYU Utah / Penn State
2007 Stanford, CA California 37-7 BYU Navy / Penn State
2008 Stanford, CA California 59-7 BYU St. Mary's / Colorado
2009 Stanford, CA BYU 25-22 California Army / San Diego State
2010 Stanford, CA California 19-7 BYU Arkansas State / Army
2011 Sandy, UT California 21-14 BYU Utah / Arkansas State

Varsity Cup[edit]

The following table is a list of each of the Varsity Cups in which Cal has reached at least the semifinals.

2013 Provo, UT BYU 27-24 California Central Washington / Navy
2014 Sandy, UT BYU 43-33 California Central Washington / Navy

USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships[edit]

2011 College Station, TX DNP --
2012 College Station, TX 10th 4-2
2013 College Station, TX 1st 5-0

Collegiate Rugby Championship (Sevens)[edit]

2010 Columbus, OH 2nd 5-1
2011 Philadelphia, PA 5th-tied 3-1
2012 Philadelphia, PA 3rd 5-1
2013 Philadelphia, PA 1st 6-0
2014 Philadelphia, PA 1st 6-0

PAC Rugby 7s conference championships[edit]

2012 Los Angeles, CA California 21-12 Utah UCLA Arizona State


The following is a partial list of Cal rugby players have played for the United States national rugby team, nicknamed Eagles, in a major international competition. Of the 30-man squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, 7 were Cal alums.

––– Players with significant international experience(caps) outside of World Cup appearances for the United States –––

See also[edit]