Press Room Banter ...with Kelly Suckow

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When my ex-boyfriend called me from Georgia last weekend, the bitterness in his voice was palpable.

A flanker for Tennessee's rugby team, he called me to complain about his embarrassing loss to Army and added that Cal seemed to have no trouble against UCLA and Penn State in the playoffs. But, who really cares about college rugby?

This is the question most of my friends ask me when I rant about how amazing Cal's team is. They roll their eyes at me and change the subject.

Maybe I get brushed off because I live in Tennessee and most of my friends go to the University of Tennessee-home of basketball players charged with gun possession and a fickle former football coach.

The last time the Bears saw the Vols on the same pitch was in 2008. Cal dominated with a 102-3 playoff win. The sting from that loss could also be the wedge that is the rivalry between my friends and me when we smack-talk each other's teams.

When it comes to football smack-talk, though, it's another story. I always seem to get the short end of the stick in my arguments with my friends, whose weapons of choice in those battles are Eric Berry and claims that the SEC is the best conference.

Don't get me wrong, I am a dedicated Cal football fan, but something that still boggles my mind is how we can fill a football stadium with screaming fans after eight wins and five losses, yet some people don't even know where Witter Rugby Field is-where the most successful team on Cal's campus plays.

Rugby is next to football on my list of my favorite sports to watch. I actually knew how dominating the Bears were when I came to Cal as a freshman, having followed Cal rugby since the days of Rikus Pretorius. I yelled myself hoarse at the national championship last year.

Our ruggers are winners.

Maybe they didn't come out on top last year, but when Jack Clark is complaining about the tries allowed in the 65-32 win over the Bruins in this year's playoffs or when the scoreboard reads 152-0 in the first match of the season, you know that a team is good.

I admit that this year I fell a little behind in following the team.

Until the call from my ex-boyfriend, I didn't know that it is the tail end of the season already-which means the Bears' chance to reclaim the national title is this weekend.

I am not well-seasoned in the history of Cal athletics, but how many teams can boast that they have visited the national tournament 25 times and won 24 of them?

The trek up to Strawberry Canyon is worth it to watch one of the most elite rugby teams dominate its opponents.

I have met many veteran fans in the stands who have been going to games for years. Their dedication is something that has separated my encounters with fans at Memorial Stadium.

Plus, the body-on-body contact that characterizes the game always leads to something interesting on the pitch.

In the two seasons I actually played the game, I saw broken collarbones and ankles, concussions and ears practically ripped off.

Whether it is the violence or the ability to see one of the most consistent teams literally roll over its opposition, Cal rugby will never cease to impress.

Who cares about college rugby?

When you have a team like the Bears, you all should.

Tags: PRESS ROOM BANTER


Trek up to Witter Rugby Field with Kelly at [email protected]



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