So, What Does It Mean to Be a Cal Bear?


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I wish people were more passionate about collegiate rugby.

I thought I heard it when thunderous "BYU!" versus "Let's Go Bears!" chants clashed with one another at a sold-out Steuber Rugby Stadium.

I thought I saw it when Colin Hawley could not hold back tears when embracing family, friends and seemingly everyone that helped him finish his Cal career with a national championship.

But all I needed to do was scroll down to the comment box of the Daily Cal website to see a comment that read "Who cares?" regarding the rugby team's 25th national championship.

These are undefeated, untied, national champions.

But few seem to be impressed.

Cal rugby suffers from the paradoxically unfortunate peril of winning by too much, too often.

Students will shrug, say "they win all the time anyway," and roll their eyes.

And that's a shame.

To try and convince you of the magnitude of this victory, the rest of this column will be the words of the players and their head coach. Hopefully you'll notice what this team did to become champions. I simply asked each individual: What is it to be a Cal Bear?

"This team has been through everything. We made all the mistakes you can make. We persevered and we trusted each other. We came through and kept on battling the entire game. BYU plays harder than anyone. They go fast, they go hard, they go up the middle, they go to the lines. They can beat you on any point of the game. We had to play a complete game of rugby. And everything came together today. We had our ups and downs, but we trusted each other. And that's what is so special about it. That's what it is to be a Cal Bear. It is to be 100 percent with your teammates."- Senior fullback Colin Hawley.

"Tonight was a cornerstone To see and to feel the hard work; these guys are courageous. This is what legends are made of. It's the most incredible feeling. I wouldn't want to be at any other university. I wouldn't want to be a part of any other rugby program. It's great to come away from this season with trophies in hand and medals around our neck."- Senior flyhalf Keegan Engelbrecht.

"It's something to do with a bit of history. This team has been around 128 years. Not too many go undefeated and untied. BYU was everything and more than we thought they were going to be. It took one through 15 on the field and one through 60 on the bench to get where we got today. It hurts (physically) to win that game. But it's all worth it."- Senior scrum half Andrew Mase.

"Coming from last year, with all the emotion that went into it, I can honestly say that I have never felt like this in my life. That's one of the most physical games that I have ever been involved in. That's the game of rugby. It's the greatest feeling of my life; it's amazing."- Senior fullback James Bailes.

"These young men wanted to win because they wanted to represent their school. They take pride in what they are doing. They wanted to win for their own team. To be chaired off the field by your teammates, those are the things that you remember for the rest of your life You have to work every day to contribute back to the middle. That is where the respect and the love comes from. I just cannot be more proud of these young men. I may be wrong, but I don't think so. I think you can build a life on these types of experiences I've been here before in the national championship moment, but what makes this one extra sweet is that BYU is such a difficult opponent. Our guys needed to empty their tank and give full measure for so long, both physically and mentally. That's what makes it all the much better."- Head coach Jack Clark.


Be a champ with Gabriel at [email protected]

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