Typically, the most dominant sports programs have a track record of success that dates back to their inception. Notable examples of this are Alabama’s football program and Duke’s basketball program, which both use the highly esteemed programs’ status to attract top prospects and build continued success. This is the case with Cal’s oldest and arguably most successful intercollegiate sports program, its men’s rugby team.
Easily Cal’s most dominant sports program this season, the men’s rugby team put together yet another mind-boggling performance, looking like men among boys. As is well known, the Bears went into their two Arizona matchups with an 18-game winning streak. An undefeated season serves as a microcosm of the program’s storied history, a program which recently celebrated its 17th hall of fame induction.
The Bears marched into their matchups against Arizona and GCU after over 20 days off.
“Time off doesn’t help us,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark in an email when asked about the extended break. “When we get our training and competition balance right we have the best chance to grow as a team. The one aspect we need good fortune with is injuries.”
In their last matchup, the Bears faced the Arizona Wildcats, a team whose season they had ended in the 7’s semifinals in a convincing manner. This time around, the Bears reached new heights of dominance, blowing out the Wildcats by a score of 94-12.
The Bears then made their way to Tucson, where they faced Grand Canyon University. In doing so, they pitched an impressive 84-0 shutout against the Antelopes.
Perhaps no member of the blue and gold had a better weekend than Max Schumacher, a standout junior who continued his great season by scoring 29 points against Arizona and 34 points against GCU.
The undefeated Bears are led by longtime head coach Clark and his decorated resume. Despite his 184-22 record, there are serious questions about whether this undefeated group is the best team he’s ever coached.
“We have a good team,” Clark said. “We have some talent, and more importantly we have grit and work ethic. This is among the most enjoyable teams I’ve coached. There are some exceptional leaders on this team.”
As this season goes on and the team continues to dominate, the goal of being undefeated is undoubtedly on the Bears’ mind, alongside winning the 15’s championship.
“I haven’t thought about anything other than improving,” Clark said when asked if this is the case. “We have a fair ways to go in reaching potential. I believe this is the players focus as well. Naturally we want to win, but getting better is the most important focus point.”
Regardless, Cal rugby fans have been in for a treat this season, and it will be fascinating to watch the heights that this extraordinary group will reach.
AJ Alany covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].