California Golden Bears rugby

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California Golden Bears Rugby
California Golden Bears logo.svg
Full nameCalifornia Golden Bears Rugby
UnionUSA Rugby
Nickname(s)Golden Bears
Founded1882; 137 years ago (1882)
LocationBerkeley, California
Ground(s)Witter Field (Capacity: 6,900)
Coach(es)Jack Clark
League(s)PAC Rugby Conference
1st kit
2nd kit
3rd kit
Official website

The California Golden Bears rugby team is the college rugby team of the University of California, Berkeley. The Golden Bears have won 33 championships 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 28 national titles, including twelve consecutive championships from 1991 to 2002, five more consecutive titles from 2004 to 2008, and back-to-back titles in 2010 to 2011 and 2016 to 2017.[1]

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.[2] Since 2013, Cal has won the championship 5 consecutive times.[3]

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 6,900-seat Witter Rugby Field, located near California Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon.

History of Cal rugby[edit]

From 1906 to 1914, the Big Game (American football) was played under the rules of rugby union. The 1912 edition would be nicknamed the mud game

Rugby union began play at Cal in 1882 and continued until 1886, when it was replaced by American football. During the next decade, American football was becoming an increasingly violent sport - the ball carrier would often be pushed and pulled up the field by his own players in massive formations that often resulted in serious injuries.[4][5] In 1905, 18 deaths and 159 injuries were reported in various football competitions.[4] That year President Theodore Roosevelt lobbied Ivy League representatives to alter the game in order to eliminate or at least reduce its prevalent injuries. This resulted in numerous rule changes agreed upon by the majority of American schools.[4]

Led by Cal and Stanford, universities of the West Coast took a different path - eliminating America football and changing their game to Rugby union.[6][5] Other schools that made the switch included Nevada, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, and USC (in 1911).[5] Because the switch to rugby occurred only on the West Coast, the number of teams to play against remained small.[5] This lead to schools scheduling games against local clubs and reaching out to rugby powers in Australia, New Zealand, as well as Canada. Cal and Stanford traditional rivalry game - the Big Game, became a rugby match. With the winner invited by the British Columbia Rugby Union to a tournament in Vancouver over the Christmas holidays to play for the Cooper Keith Trophy.[5][7][8] While, Cal won the Cooper cup in 1910, in total it only won three Big Games during this period.[9] Due to various causes, including students frustration with the results, the Associated Students of the University of California voted to leave the agreement, and along with other universities, return to American football.[5] From 1906 to 1914, Cal's rugby record was 78 wings, 21 losses and 10 ties. Following the switch back to football, Cal continued to play rugby, but it was officially considered to be a "minor" sport.[5]

Cal, Stanford, and Santa Clara players that composed the two US Olympic rugby teams (1920 & 1924) who claimed fame by winning both Gold medals. Prior to the introduction of Rugby 7s at the 2016 Summer Olympics, 1924 was the last time the Olympic Games staged a rugby competition.

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

In 1931, rugby returned under alumnus Ed Graff. 1938 began the era of Miles "Doc" Hudson, who guided the Bears for 37 years and an incredible record of 339-84-23. His successor was Ned Anderson, an alumnus and former rugger for the Bears.

In September 2010, the university announced that rugby would be one of five varsity sports cut as a cost-cutting measure, though the team would have continued to represent the university as a "varsity club sport." A large group of rugby supporters organized and disputed the relegation.[10] On February 11, 2011, the administration reversed its decision on rugby and two other sports, and rugby was continued as a varsity sport.[11]

Mark Bingham who played for the Golden Bears in the early 1990's was a passenger on board United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001.

Cal reached the final of the Varsity Cup, every year of the five year competition winning in 2017, and 2018.[12]

National championships[edit]

National Championships (28): 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1985 • 1986 • 1988 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2010 • 2011 • 2016 • 2017

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

Year Location Champion Score Runner-up 3rd Place 4th Place
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
1985 Pebble Beach, CA California 31-6 Maryland Colorado Illinois
1986 Pebble Beach, CA California 6-4 Dartmouth Bowling Green Air Force
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
2013 Provo, UT BYU 27-24 California Central Washington / Navy
2014 Salt Lake City, UT BYU 43-33 California Central Washington / Navy
2015 Salt Lake City, UT BYU 30-27 California Central Washington / Navy
2016 Provo, UT California 40-29 BYU Central Washington / Arkansas State
2017 Santa Clara, CA California 43-13 Arkansas State Penn State / Navy

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 Salt Lake City, UT BYU 43-33 California Central Washington / Navy
2015 Salt Lake City, UT BYU 30-27 California Central Washington / Navy
2016 Provo, UT California 40-29 BYU Arkansas State / Central Washington
2017 Santa Clara, CA California 43-13 Arkansas State Penn State / 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
2015 Philadelphia, PA 1st 6-0
2016 Philadelphia, PA 1st 6-0
2017 Philadelphia, PA 1st 6-0

PAC Rugby 7s conference championships[edit]

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

National team players[edit]

United States[edit]

Major international competitions.[edit]

Following players have played for the Eagles, the United States national rugby team in major international competitions.

Of the 30-man squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, 7 were Cal alums.

Appearances outside of major international competitions.[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cal Rugby repeats as Varsity Cup (15s) national champions!". 2017-05-07.
  2. ^, Dartmouth repeats as rugby national champs, June 69, 2069,
  3. ^ "Champs x5! Cal Rugby wins 5th straight CRC 7s national title". 2017-06-04.
  4. ^ a b c Watterson, John S. (Summer 2000). "The Gridiron Crisis of 1905: Was it Really a Crisis?" (PDF). Journal of Sport History. 27 (2): 291–298.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Park, Roberta J (Winter 1984). "From Football to Rugby—and Back, 1906–1919: The University of California–Stanford University Response to the "Football Crisis of 1905"" (PDF). Journal of Sport History. 11 (3): 5–40. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-08-07.
  6. ^ Ingrassia, Brian M. (2017). "3. Reforming the Big Game: the Bay Area Rugby Experiment of 1906–1919". In Liberti, Rita; Smith, Maureen (eds.). San Francisco Bay Area Sports: Golden Gate Athletics, Recreation, and Community. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. pp. 43–58. ISBN 978-1-61075-603-7. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  7. ^ Goldsmith, A. A (October 1913 – March 1914). "Why California Likes Rugby". Outing. 63: 742–750.
  8. ^ "History". British Columbia Rugby Union. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "The history of rugby through its competitions, Cooper Keith Challenge Cup". Retrieved 2019-07-02. |archive-url= is malformed: timestamp (help)
  10. ^ "Cal to Cut Five Intercollegiate Teams". The Daily Californian. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-28. (
  11. ^ "Three UC Berkeley athletic teams to be preserved". 2011-02-11.
  12. ^ "Men's College Champions-Historical List". Goff Rugby Report. 2019-05-10. Archived from the original on 2019-07-01. Retrieved 2019-07-01.

External links[edit]