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07 November 2011


Learning from the best clubs is important. Clearly Cal has the most college XV's championships and there are many other clubs that are known to be very well run such as BYU, Life, and Army (many more examples exist).

Which senior clubs have the most
1) RSL Chapionships?
2) D1 Championships?
3) Capped Eagles

1. Belmont Shore
2. No idea. I can think of a bunch of teams with two, some of whom no longer exist.
3. Historically I would bet OMBAC, but the real answer to this is Cal.

RSL Website is horrible but managed to pull this together for RSL Champions

Belmont Shore 4
Aspen 3
Denver Barbarians 1
Life 1

3 of the RSL champions representing 8 of 15 championships are no longer in RSL.

Clearly Cal has the longest track record of sustained excellence of any club in the history of US Rugby. Cal has produced more Eagles than any college and probably more than any senior club. Any club that becomes a bit more like Cal in all key areas every year would be going the right direction. (player development, recruiting, coaching, administration, athletic trainers, access HP facilities, fields, equipment, fan base, donors, sponsors)

I think OMBAC probably had the most DI championships, followed by Old Blues (now merged with Olympic Club).

FYI-Old Blues did not merge Olympic Club. They had a trial merger with Hayward Rugby Club which after a brief time mutually decided it was not feasible for either. Old Blues won 8 National Championships during their time.

Rugby Mag has past champs:


for D1 it looks like:

Old Blues 8
Aspen 5
Boston Wolfhounds, San Mateo, Santa Monica 2
Las Vegas, Dallas Harlequins, Hayward, Life, Potomac AC, Denver Barbos and Milwakee 1

The biggest advantage that Cal has over 95% of the other college programs is simple. Cal hand picks a squad of 60+ players that are beholden to the coach and athletic department. I have experience coaching at the college level and it is nearly impossible to create a professional environment when you have to take players with all different abilities, club sports rules and administration and most importantly no institutionalized leverage over the team. Times I have disciplined a player by taking away participation the student always had the option to go to the club sports director and I would be ordered to play that individual unless their behavior broke school behavior rules (i.e. drugs or alcohol abuse, hazing, bullying, racism, etc). Same rules the frats, religious groups, service organizations, Frisbee club, book club and choir have to honor.

@Hands Tied

I think Cal has been consistently placing players on the national team since the US won the 1920 Olympics. Is this before or after your run in with the club sport director?

As for the hand picked comment. I think since the Cal rugby players pay 100% of their tuition, room and board, that it is they (the students and their families) who hand pick Cal.

@ Hands Tied. There is some obvious merit to each of your comments about Cal's advantages. However, isn't professionalism an attitude and philosophy above everything else? It may be easier attained in an environment like Cal, but that's it.

I look at St. Mary's as a perfect example. SM has less than 2000 males to choose a team, has difficulty recruiting because of its insanely high cost and higher than average academic standards. Added is the fact that it has to play Cal annually so has only the rarest chance to boast of a championship, and so on. I would think the liberal silver spoon soft environment in Moraga causes SM coaching staff many fits. However, they are as professional as Cal (and probably more fun to play for).

I grew up jealous of Cal rugby, and thus disliking everything about it. Every week I still root for the team playing Cal to upset them, but now it isn't out of jealousy, but rather to see someone else raise the bar.

I wonder if winning national championships is fun. It looks fun. It must be hard, but it looks fun. Some think the only fun in rugby is singing songs at the keg. Others think it is fun to win every once in a while. Still others think it is fun to win most times. Can training be fun? Is lining the field fun? Is it fun if your teammates don't come to practice? What about if the coach isn't very good, still fun sometimes?

Fun is in the eye of the beholder. Or in this case the player.

Let's not go overboard on the academic credentials of St. Mary's. I coach at a relatively selective private institution that has a decent academic reputation and ranking. I had a rugby recruit whose application was rejected by my school get a full merit based academic scholarship to St. Mary's. Is St. Mary's a better school academically than Kutztown? Sure, no doubt. And is it potentially harder to get into St. Mary's than Cal if you are a rugby player? Maybe, I don't know. But let's not pretend St. Mary's is Dartmouth or UVA or or Middlebury or any one of the Claremont colleges.

And as I reread the St. Mary's comment I see that all that was said was "higher than average academic standards" so I withdraw my prior comment. In quickly reading it I skipped over the "than average" part. Apologies. Carry on.

@go bears

JC has each of his players by the you know whats. He slaughters one every year in front of the team to make sure he has them scared. Most the guys are only at Cal because rugby got them in, and the kid and his parents know it. Can't create that environment in a club reality. St Mary's does a good job, and like Cal lives off a HS rugby scene 20 years ahead of the rest of tge country. These are facts.

Slaughters them??? Where does he hide the bodies?!

True story though. Attempting to coach a true club team (not those hybrid ones like Army/PSU others have) at a high performance level is one of the most daunting challenges in all of american sports. That is not hyperbole. And there are people out there attempting it. Kudos to them. The value is in the journey. Enjoy the success no matter how small and dont let the failures take you down.

Cal also shows how important depth is to a good rugby program. Too many college sides struggle to field a B-side. A handful of college clubs have teams in mutliple divisions. The larger roster provides better environment for player development and more financial resources. More money and broader student participation opens the door for better coaching and facilties. Cal has set the bar and college team need to step up. "Beat Cal" is as good a strategic goal as any.

@ BBear

Interesting take you have on athletics. So you think sports like college football, baseball, womens softball, do not have the full attention of their players? Once a sport provides a scholarship they do require some compliance.

In the case of rugby at Cal, the players aren't receiving any scholarships, so players are free to keep their admission to school and simply quit the rugby team if they wish. A few players do this. No big deal because players quit all the college rugby teams and even quit the scholarship sports on occasion. About 90% of Cal's incoming freshmen players play a full four years. This is a voluntary decision on the part of the player. Playing rugby at Cal is a wonderful experience. I know because I did it. No one signs a contract. Students owe nothing to the athletic department or university. Cal players not only enjoy their playing years, they give back generously to the rugby program as alumni. I will have a lot more money in 10 years than I have today, but I feel a responsibility to donate to Cal rugby.

I am not sure what you mean when you say JC has the players by the balls. Are you saying the players follow team rules? That they put a neck tie on when he tells them to? Is it the fact rugby is as organized at Cal as the big sports? In some ways you must be correct. There is no club president of the team. But then again, there are no club presidents of any of the varsity sports. They are just sport teams: players, coaches, athletic trainers etc.

One thing I agree with you on. The main attraction to attend Cal is for the education. Most kids on the roster are California kids, who along with their parents, value the education above all else. Winning those 26 national championships, going on to play at Oxford, the Eagles or professionally is all secondary.

Interesting series of articles published at www.calbears.com, follow the prompts to rugby.

Lead story is about the Cal team participating in a charity event. Photos, comments from people at the event, explanation of the charity and event purpose. The team ran with their academic adviser to the top of a high rise.

There is a story about a couple of players off Cal's 2011 national championship team pursuing an Oxford Blue. The story shares a long line of Cal players who have taken the journey.

Story about the Doc Hudson 1971 Cal team which very successfully toured the Southern Hemisphere. Lots of video in this story. The captain of the team, Ned Anderson is being inducted into the schools Hall of Fame.

The recap of the California Sevens and Cal's 3-3 results, there for everyone to see.

It is kind of a week in the life of Cal rugby. Win-lose, honor tradition and service to others. Not much talk about slaughter.

@go bears

You're on pompous t#at. The reality is that when the administration at Cal looked into saving money within the Athletic Department they saw a glaring expense that did not fit with the charter of the AD to be competitive in NCAA sports. That was the rugby program being, at the time, the only varsity rugby program out of 300+ club rugby clubs on campuses across the nation. You're full bravado when the table is tilted in your direction.

STFU with your bloviating about Cal and go coach down the road at Santa Clara, Chico State, Fresno State, UC Davis, etc and tell us how great it is to operate with a mid 5 figure budget from the university and the dump truck worth of issues from lack of facilities use, class schedule conflicts, rules and administration members that have nothing to do with high performance sport, inability to get kids admitted just because he is a rugby stud, etc, etc, etc. Or better yet go down to So. Cal. or the Pacific Northwest and deal with the fact that there are not dozens of quality U19 and HS programs to recruit from for you team.

You sir are a clown.

@ Hands Tied:
Wow, some angst there. How many times did your club get manhandled by Cal or are you just jealous? Just let it go.
Don't forget that Cal's AD tried to cut mens & womens gymnastics, womens lacrosse and baseball along with rugby. Rugby wasn't singled out. Cal rugby has earned everything they've got, blue chip rugby players included. And no, I did not go to Cal. I went to a state university with a rugby club run by the students, no outside coaching or help from alumni.

Mid 5 figure budget?? That's at least 10,000. Nothing to sniff at. And if by "mid 5 figures" you mean something between 10 and 100 thousand then dammmn. But I doubt you did. Maybe you meant 4k.

Cal supporters, remember that yes you have worked hard throughout your history, but your situation is pretty unique and you are lucky to have had 3 or 4 amazing rugby men leading the program as well counting the Witter family amongst your alums.

Cal detractors, remember that Cal does things the right way and do the most with their resources. They are an example to follow if possible and a model to learn from. Their advantage is not unfair in that they did nothing wrong during the 100+ years in which they earned their advantage over the rest of the competition.

How many college clubs have over 50 players and annual funding over $50,000? My guess is very few. What percentage of D-1A (aka CPD)clubs have 50 players and $50k?

Many college clubs have no idea how far behind Cal they are in term of recruiting and adminstration. Cal has 65 CIPPed players and a budget of $300,000. Other college clubs can't close the gap overnight but they should make progress every year. 10% roster and budget growth each year is good goal. Expecting varsity status is not realistic until college clubs have more players and more money.

@ Hands Tied

Your issues are becoming more apparent. Let me try to help.

The Cal administration cut baseball, M/W Gym and W Lax, they didn't cut rugby. They attempted to demote rugby to a new class of athletics called varsity club. This due to Title IX considerations. Cut a women's sport and men's heads roll as well.

Well as you may know it didn't happen. The outcry was overwhelming and the administration changed their mind. Of course rugby donors raising a couple million dollars to reinstate W Gym and W Lax helped. By these two women's sports being reinstated there was no reason to demote rugby for gender equity purposes. All's well that ends well, much to your disappointed it sounds.

Many Cal alumni coach rugby throughout the United States. They work in administration, they ref, they are highly involved. At every level of the game you can find Cal alumni working in rugby. Not sure of your point here.

You sound upset. I think we should leave it here.

I routinely he ar tales from coaches in California about kids not getting into their university - some are UC universities - and then they get into Cal. The magic at Cal is that they have a great rugby program with great in-state HS and U19 clubs. Many of these HS recruits are going to private HSs and their parents will be paying less for them to pay in-state tuition than they paid for their HS tuition (i.e. Jesuit). Do the math. The kid gets into Cal with marks that would never get him in unless JC is pulling the varsity sport strings with the Admissions Department, the kid is in a great public university (maybe the best in the country) and the parents are saving a 150K or more by not sending their kid to a private school. It is a win-win-win and not many rugby programs (varsity or not) could wrangle that advantage.

i did an interesting podcast with simon hardy on the mental side of rugby on rugbymag.com

while it is a plug, i enjoy gainline comments perspective on stuff, as it gives me a lot of good and interesting ideas to bring up

Is anyone following USAR Rugby proposed GU restructuring of the senior clubs? I've heard they will create 16 Geographic Unions to mirror the D1 college conferences. Clubs will no longer pay CIPP. Player CIPP will increase to cover what is lost from the Club CIPP payments. New legal entities have already been formed by USAR. Looks like this will go into effect in 2012. Many existing TU's will meet for the last time this month before they are dissolved. Eventually there will be a full time paid administrator for each GU.

@Do the Math?
So what? If Cal can do that because they are varsity then more power to them.

I thought the kids just wanted on that cool Cal Nike swag.

"Player CIPP will increase to cover what is lost from the Club CIPP payments"

That's great. It's hard enough to get guys to cough up $100-$200 for dues on top of $35 for CIPP and CIPP is going up? What is the point?

Interestinting article in the NY Times about resurgence of UFC. Rugby could learn from their business model. Strong central control, brand management, and developing the all-American image before bringing in the more talented foreigners. UFC has a bigger audience than MLS. A punch to the face is more easily understood than 15s. 7s eSier to understand than 15s. A pro rugby sevens league with an accompanying "road to the Olympics" reality show might work for rugby. Of course, it needs funding and strong leadership . . .


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