Cal Rugby Head Coach Jack Clark: Interview of the Week

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Cal Rugby Head Coach Jack Clark: Interview of the Week

A couple weeks ago, I sent an email to Jack Clark, Head Coach of the Cal Rugby program, requesting a small interview. Although somewhat reluctant to do so, he told me to go ahead and send my questions... (CalBears.com photo)

Cal Rugby Head Coach Jack ClarkI must admit I was pretty excited to hear from the great Jack Clark, especially as I was hoping for some good perspective on the Cal Rugby program and thoughts on their recent loss to BYU (that and the fact that I thought it just plain fun to see if he would even reply!). Instead of answering my questions, however, Coach Clark referred me to an interview he had just had with the media relations people at Cal that morning. And so my questions got deflected! Shucks, of all the luck...

Well, what can I say... apparently my media muscle is still about as minuscule as that of a fledgling school newspaper! The score is Jack Clark 1, BYU Rugby Forever 0... for now... but it's on, folks, it's really on! Look out!!!

Ok, all kidding aside, I did finally find the aforementioned interview featured on CalBears.com to pass on to all of you, dated May 22, 2009:

Q&A with California Rugby Head Coach Jack Clark

Although the majority of the questions asked do not touch on the BYU-Cal meetings of the past few years, nevertheless a few of the questions did include some commentary with respect to BYU. I'll here include such relevant, question/answer excerpts, but the analysis thereof I leave to you...

My respect and thanks to Coach Clark for his consideration nonetheless; someday I'll try again! But in the meantime, enjoy the following Q&A:

(for the entire interview, click the above link)

California saw a remarkable run of 115 wins in a row against U.S. collegiate competition end against BYU at the 2009 national championship. The streak began after your regular-season loss to Cal Poly on April 3, 2004. What are your thoughts on that achievement?

I haven't paid any more attention to this streak than the streak before it, or the one before that. We are neurotic about reaching our potential as a team and, to a degree, about playing our best rugby at season's end, but the results in the middle are only about building the team. Maybe one day, when I'm finished, I'll take a look back at what we've accomplished, but for now I'm only concerned about the next season.

The four consecutive meetings now with BYU in the national championship are thought by many to be a streak that will continue for many years to come. The Bears edged BYU by three in 2006 and won the next two convincingly before falling three points short this year. Do you also envision this rivalry continuing at the championship level in the foreseeable future?

I have no idea if it will continue. Our focus needs to be on getting to the title match, not who we're playing in the match. With this said, I personally love coaching against BYU and I always have, dating back to the early '80s, partially because there's always so much on the line. The matches have largely been winner-take-all affairs. Even when we played them in 2001, when they had that great Kimball Kjar team, some billed it as an unofficial championship because BYU was unavailable for the national championship. It was as good of a victory for a "friendly" as is possible.

But look, BYU is our adversary, and as a foe to our university the Cougars are perfect. I wouldn't change one aspect of this BYU team - not the composition of their team, how they play or are coached to play, not the fans, nothing. They are the perfect opponent. If you can't get ready to play BYU, go see a cardiologist. They are everything you want in an opponent.

Does not winning the national championship this year change anything for the Bears going forward? In other words, does it get harder to win, or will the team possibly be more motivated next year?

No, not in my view. There is very little connection between this year's results and next. Remember, I've been at this awhile. We've both lost twice in consecutive years and we've won the championship every year for a decade. In my experience there isn't much connection between seasons.

I think the talk you hear in this regard is wrong. Many believe we will somehow be hungrier to win next year while others believe that, having lost, losing will come easier. It's all uninformed conjecture.

The championship is always won in the here and now. It's always competed for in the here and now. What happened last year is just that. Like this year, whoever wins next year's title will win it because they're the best team.

No amount of winning or losing is too much, and it's never the other team's turn to win or lose. It's the code of the sportsman, it's what we live by. It's called competition. You walk between the lines and you win or lose based on your preparation and performance in relation to your opponents'. There are no other factors.

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