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06 March 2007


Great Blog. US rugby supporters are some of the best in the world. There are a few of them in our club and every year they come over for one of the 6 nations matches. i just want to make a point that in Wales many of the games are put on TV on the English or Welsh speaking channels which may be the reason for low attendances last weekend. The US needs to be at the top table of rugby nations and i cant wait to see that happen although i dont think the world is ready for even more of your rugger buggers.

Cal will be hosting two pools of the USA Rugby Round of 16.

April 20-22, 2007
Witter Rugby Field, University of California Berkeley.
Hosted By: University of California, Berkeley – Department of Intercollegiate Athletics


Why has Cal carried on such a strong tradition and Stanford has failed to do so even with outstanding facilities?


1. Jack Clark
2. Caring rugby alums who want to continue to be part of a winner.
3. Jack Clark

ECS, Sr.

For the most part I like the discussions on this blog. It is in my opinion, however, a little weird when grown men idolize other men, in this case Jack Clark, and a college rugby program, Cal, so much. It's obvious that Cal's rugby program is top notch and that Jack Clark is a good coach. There's really no need to keep talking about how great Cal and Jack Clark are. It's boring. Cal has numerous advantages over ever other club, college and men's, in the country, and to deny this is live in a fantasy world. If you think Jack Clark is the only person in America who could replicate a similar program given similar resources you are fooling yourself. Then again, I've never met the man and maybe he can walk on water.

Hector, Hector, Hector-----

I bet you've never had the problem of others admiring your work.

Cal and Clark are examples of what can happen with a little vision and hard work. Look the other way if you want, but they have built a better mouse trap.

This thread is not just about recognizing this fact, its about appreciating how different our rugby union would be with 20 Cal's.

Jealously and all that tall poppy envy is what gets in the way of US Rugby moving forward with a proven model.

I agree with Ed, but he forgot to add #4 - Tom Billups.

If other clubs and college programs provided the level of coaching, offered by Cal - then the Eagles would be out looking for a Semi spot, come September/October.

But other programs simply don't.

Some are getting close, with new pitches - some are working hard behind the scences to develop a good solid club base with facilities. It just takes more time.

Cal is one of the rugby oldest clubs in the world 'Still playing' status. Many may have started a long time ago - but not many have gone the distance. Cal has.

And the string of national championships didn't just happen. That seed was planted long ago.

Jack Clark deserves alot of the credit. Alot more goes to the Cal Alumni who had the foresight to invest in rugby. And to continue thier support throuh the years.

Cal supporters don't turn on and off like a faucet. They go on, and stay on for life. I've never met a Cal Alum who hasn't been prouder of the fact he played rugby at Cal.

If we all followed the 'Jack Clark and Cal' style of program and coaching - rugby in this country would be 99% better off.

The only thing stopping us - is us!

What happened to the sterotypical reference to beer and antisocial behavior in a news article on rugby? What a refreshing change.

So explain to me your reference to Title IX....I am a bit confused.

Well I didn't play at Cal so why would anyone admire my work...

Speaking of Cal Rugby alumns...it seems to me that those who have had the privilege of playing under Jack Clark and learning how a top notch program is run would share those experiences with the rest of the rugby community in the United States. In fact, one would think that Cal rugby alumns would be playing and coaching with various clubs around the country, sharing their knowledge and experience so that other clubs might follow the Cal model they admire so much. I don't know enough to say this is not the case, but I've personally never met a Cal Rugby alumn in my 10 years of playing rugby. Even though I'm not located close to California, I am nonetheless suprised by this fact. The only experience I have with Cal Alumns is hearing on this blog and else where about how great Jack Clark and the Cal program are and how wonderful USA rugby would be if there were 20 Cals. I don't necessarily disagree with that, but maybe the indictment shouldn't be aimed those clubs and club members out there putting in the hard yards doing the best they can with the resources they have. Instead, maybe Cal Rugby alumns should ask why they have failed to spread the Cal system to the larger USA rugby populace. It's always easy to throw out opinions on how things would be better if things were run the way you think they should be run, and a whole different story when you have to get out there and actually do the work. Again, I'm there are many Cal rugby supporters out there doing more than cheerleading for Cal on this blog. Just raising the question.

Cal alums coaching in the USA...

Ray Lehner-Olympic Club
Kort Schubert-Cal
Chris Miller-Sacramento State
Jon Velie-Oklahoma

Those are just a few that pop to mind, and I'm sure there are more.

Tim O'Brien - St. Mary's of CA

Kirk Khasigian - Vice President of Northern California RFU

Hector, there has not been any indictments against any clubs on this topic. In fact my question originally pertained to those colleges that DO have the same resources as Cal, i.e. Stanford, Army, Dartmouth, Penn State, etc.

How is that those programs do not reach the amazing records that Cal produces every year? Stanford cannot even finish in the top four in their conference even though they have a great rugby stadium, a full-time coach and a strong alumni base. Not to disparage Stanford, but there is certainly a reason that with resources being even Cal still prevails over all other colleges. I am not a Cal Alum and I would love to see college rugby more competitive in the playoffs, but you cannot dismiss the evidence that Jack Clark and his coaching staff are the key ingredients.

You can add, Gary Hein who coached at Cal and is now involved in youth rugby, to that list.

Further, Tim O'Brien has also been involved with the Collegiate All-Americans recently and coached national champs Old Blues for many years.

Cal alums - and Jack Clark, for that matter - do not deserve even a hint of criticism for their "lack of contribution" to any aspect of youth, collegiate, club, select-side,or international rugby. No collective group of individuals have contributed more to the American rugby scene over its long history.

Those who think otherwise are either patently uninformed or continue to dwell in their dream- world, fog-covered lament of blaming others for their own lack of commitment to success.

Certainly, there are many people working "hard yards" and "doing the best with what they have" in the US domestic rugby community. Full credit to them.

Rather than lament the success of others, the sideline critics would be well-advised and better- served to spend their energy working towards making their own programs better. It can be done.

Cases in point:

Three clubs in my old home state of Iowa.....Des Moines, Iowa Falls, and Pearl City (Muscatine)....have taken a much different approach,rather than simply settling for what they had.

All three clubs, at various times, decided to get out of their "change-in-the-parking lot / where-are-we-playing-this- season?" rut and went to work. They eached developed a plan,organized themselves, raised the money, bought land, and built their own facilities.

In addition to creating a foundation for the longevity of their playing club, those facilities have proven to be tremendous foundations for the growth of youth rugby in those three communities.

Other clubs at both the mens and collegiate levels have done something similiar (Pittsburgh, Chicago Blaze, Dartmouth, Stanford). I suspect that none of those folks are among the critics of California Rugby, but rather admire and respect them for appreciating a shared experience.

Everyone who was at Witter Field last Saturday had a shared experience that will live with them for a long time.....seeing what a dynamic rugby environment can be if vision,focus, hard work and positive energy are brought to bear.(No pun intended.)

My guess is Roy Carver, Jr. at Pearl City, Dr. Francis Pisney in Iowa Falls, and Friendly Phil Kaser in Des Moines would be happy to provide some insight on how they've each done it. I also suspect that when the hard work is over at the end of this collegiate season, some of the guys at Cal would be willing to offer some assistance as well.

Ed Schram, Sr.

If somone would like to actually address the question I raised rather than spouting off topic that would great. The question is this: If the Cal program is so great and there are numerous Cal Alumns out there who have learned that system who do in fact continue to lend their experience to the rugby community why hasn't it been replicated else where from the grass roots level.

I'm merely suggesting that Cal has advantages, other than Jack Clark and a nice field. Lots of teams have knowledgable and dedicated coaches and nice fields. Most teams don't have the backing of one of the world's best public universities.

Hector, What university backing are you referring to ?

Cal Rugby raises its own budget, built its own field and clubhouse, puts on its own events, ect. The University appears to be very proud of them, is this what you mean?

Hector, you have been made to look silly with your comments. Its clear that you don't like all things Cal, which is fine. Your problem is that you have become the poster child for whinger's, "can't do for themselves" rugby players.

As a fellow rugby player, assuming you are, you're embarrassing.

Two reasons for Cal's success:

1) 125 years of tradition, resulting in a well-supported infastructure and impressive alumni network.

2) Jack Clark's summer rugby camps. Probably the single most effective recruiting tool available to any collegiate coach in the country.

I think what is interesting about this discussion is how quickly people get to "either/or" when in fact the answer is both. Cal has some significant advantages, mainly it has had rugby for over 100 years. That is about 50 years longer than most other colleges. Therefore it has a lot of alums, and alot of alums that have left money for Cal Rugby when they have passed on, and they have had a huge supporter in the Witter family. Anyone that says rugby on campus for this long is not an unusual advantage is kidding themselves.

However, Stanford has a similar history and is not at Cal's standard. So what is the difference? It is Jack Clark. What he has done is also unique. He has brought a focus that has developed a unique model that has led to success. Following the Cal model would be difficult for other schools, because they do not have the history, however there are schools that are being forced to step up, get fields, pay coaches etc. if they want to compete and that is a good thing.

Now, could Cal do more? Could they share how they have built their alumni network? How they manage their relationship with the university (My understanding is that Cal is Varsity, but not intercollegiate). Yes they could, but they are under no obligation to. I suspect that is someone called Cal and asked them, they would willingly share. This is something I wish they would do more of.

So the answer is both - Cal Rugby has an unusual history that gives its advantages, as well as an unusual leader who has maximized those advantages.


I will give "not spouting off target" a shot.

Your question is why has Cal's system not spread at the grass roots?

First before doing that, let's consider why it has not taken root on a consistant basis at the few campuses that enjoy similiar facilities, rugby playing longevity, and opportunity(Stanford, Army, Navy, Air Force, Dartmouth, Penn State):

1. None of these programs have produced the number of rugby playing alums....particularly those who are willing to fund the renovation/remodel/construction of America's best rugby facility.... and also send their rugby-playing sons back to their alma mater.

2. None of these programs conduct player development programs comparable to Cal's summer camps.

3. None of these programs have consistantly attracted coaching staffs that compare to those former Cal All-Americans and Internationals who have returned year after year to coach and learn at Strawberry Canyon.

4. None of these programs have an Athletic Dept.that has recognized the wisdom - from an alumni support perspective and a student recruiting prespective - to grant varsity status to a program that pays its own way in times when most collegiate programs in all sports fail to do the same.

5. None of these programs have been fortunate enough to be led by an individual with Jack Clark's skill set....from business management to rugby coaching to unfailing committment.

6. Take a look at the Cal roster on line. The vast majority hail from California...particularly from Northern California, which has many of the best high school rugby programs in the country.

Now then, Hector,let's address the rugby scene you seem to know best from your 10-year playing career far removed from the hills of Berkeley...American club rugby.

Why has Cal's system not spread to the grass roots of American club rugby?

Why, indeed?

Because it is damned hard work. And it means going to work nearly every day. And it means building a system that is grounded in rugby facility ownership or lease.

Building a rugby club is a full-time part-time job. Ask the guys in Pittsburg, Chicago Blaze, Des Moines, Iowa Falls, and Muscatine that I know....let alone the several others around the country who have taken the time and effort to go a similar route.

Ask the guys at OMBAC how they have managed to keep the program going with a system that somewhat images, but is certainly not a carbon copy of Cal's, despite many former Cal players on both the pitch and in team management over the years. They'd tell you three things: 1.Committed, intelligent leadership.2. Hard work and 3.money...in that order. All else follows.

Ask Stu Krohn at Santa Monica....a club that has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse and back to the penthouse in its history. Stu would tell you the same thing. It's not a mystery.

Obviously, not every group of club rugby leaders aspires to expending the energies to work that hard off the field. If more did, we'd have more clubs that consistanly stand the test of time and better mirror the Cal system. Which, in configuration, mirrors similiar models the world over. Unfortunately, for those who care about the growth of American rugby -- as you appear to -- right now Cal is one of the few that we have.

It's not Cal's fault. For all I know, it's more the fault of guys like you. You obviously care enough to have weighed in with some fairly heavy accusations. But, do you care enough to do something about it.

The challenge is to quit bitching and moaning and get to work.

Ed Schram,Sr.

add the name Robbie Bellue, Cal. grad.my successor as Head Coach UC Santa Cruz.
Hector Lee asked a legitimate question, & Ed Schram gave a detailed answer.
With apologies to my South African countrymen,I would compare Jack Clarks influence on American rugby as to Danie Cravens during the Springboks glory years.Cals program is as tightly managed as Stellenbosch Universitys is & few clubs in the U.S have the coaching expertise of Clark & Billups or the managerial know how of Jerry Figone.
I have the good fortune of spending three months of the South African season over there, & can tell you that American rugby is being watched closely(S.A. & USA meet in the world Cup)& that Jack Clark & Cal. Berkley are highly regarded.My wish is that Cal. would play more on the international scene.
By the same token, perhaps OMBAC could spread their know how to the other clubs in the San Diego area.It was an impressive party that USRFF's Brian Vizard & Ombac put together prior to the IRB sevens,& with Dan Lyle now in San Diego,there seems to be enough talent to spread around.
Roland Maitland

You can Add Alan Petty to the Cal grad list. His Elsie Allen High School team has been challenging the likes of Jesuit for Nor Cal Supremacy in recent years.

Some other Cal alumns who are coaching:
Greg Stoehr at Los Altos, for the last 15 years.
Joe Motes as an assistant at Vacaville HS, the defending Tier B National Champions and the Vacaville Rugby Club
John Dixon at Lamorinda, who is assisted by several other Cal grads, and which has been coached by Ned Anderson, a former Cal head coach and assistant coach in the past.
Me for 20 years.
Blane Warhurst at Hayward U-19.
Dave Cingolani who has been a player coach with the Marin Reds.
Mark Hoffman, formerly with Burlingame HS, where he coached several future Eagles and won a National Championship.
John Cullom who was at Piedmont H.S. for two decades.
Kirk Khasigian also serves as a roving coach, giving clinics all around the Bay Area in exchange for gas money, that he tends to donate back to HS clubs.
Lastly, I can name another handful of players who have coached high school or college rugby in the past, to go with this group of involved Cal Alums.

You guys are forgetting referees, where Cal has Chris Draper, one of the most highly regarded new ref's on the national scene and Joe Androvich one of Northern California's up and coming referees.

A few USARFU board member of which former Eagles Don Guest and Don James were the last. How about Whit Everett who just donated the funds to build the new youth rugby field in Moraga. If Hector Pecker, thinks he has something to gripe about now, wait until that 400 kid, Cal alumni coached youth program really begins to pump out stud kids. Kids will enter college with 6-8 years of rugby under their belts.

I agree with whoever said we need 20 more Cal's.


Here's a little more info to put in your "What have Cal alums done?" file:

Don James and Eddy Schram, both former Cal and National Team players, both served on the USA Rugby Board as International player representatives.

Gary Hein and Don James took their Cal rugby expertise on to OXford University.

ECS, Sr.

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