California Golden Bears Rugby: UC Berkeley Not the Powerhouse It Once Was

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IJune 5, 2011

California has lost two straight against Utah in rugby sevens.
California has lost two straight against Utah in rugby sevens.

Now some of you people may be wondering, is this author joking? Is this author stirring the pot like he did with Luton Town a few weeks ago, casting bait into the water and waiting for the fish to chomp at the bit?

It can been that way, obviously. But as a fan of the Golden Bears rugby team, I have issued this edict.

The University of California at Berkeley is not the best university when it comes to collegiate rugby. That honor now belongs to the University of Utah, and I'll tell you why.

Twice, the Bears have failed to figure out the Utes in rugby sevens. Last year, the Utes defeated Cal 31-26 in overtime in the final of the USA Collegiate Sevens Invitational. This year, they took a further step back, dropping a 21-5 stinker to the same Utah side at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

The price you pay for playing like a bunch of stegosaurii in blue and gold on a Sunday morning is pretty costly, as you can see.

I still don't understand why Cal is terrible at rugby sevens. Now, some of you will argue this: they stormed through their Pool by the tune of 88-7.

Well, that means absolutely nothing, readers. Nothing at all.

If the Golden Bears are to avoid making this season a wash, they need to know how to beat Utah at rugby sevens. It's completely unacceptable that they cannot translate their success at the 15s level to similar success at the sevens level.

Heck, the Kenyan national team could beat Cal on their game, and (aside from sevens) they're not even a rugby powerhouse! (Maybe they are in association football—actually, they are currently ranked 123rd in the world, so perish the thought.)

The Golden Bears are going to need to invest more time in the sevens style of rugby if they want to get right against Utah for once. They can tour university like Oxford and Cambridge and play some sevens matches against them. They can tour countries like Argentina, Scotland, Wales, France and Ireland, and learn how they approach the sevens style. A trip to New Zealand or Australia could also do them wonders.

Then, once they get the tour obligations out of the way, the Bears can practice the sevens style of rugby in this offseason while the countdown to next season begins. I hope that at least if the team is practicing in the offseason, they focus on the sevens aspect of rugby. This team can win at the 15s level in their sleep. But it is playing sevens rugby that is preventing Cal from becoming the rugby powerhouse that it once was.

If Jack E. Clark and company do not focus more time on improving themselves in terms of rugby sevens, I cannot see them beating the University of Utah in this discipline for the next century. You can count on it not happening all.

To sum it all up, in spite of the accomplishments that they have garnered playing 15s, I am here to let you readers know that the 2011 rugby season for Cal is officially...a wash.


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