You are here
Cal three-peated as Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship winners last weekend, claiming the program’s 29th national championship. 26 of those came in 15s – the last in 2011. It sounds crazy to say that a program which won 26 championships in the span of 33 years would have endured much in the way of a slump. But relatively speaking, that’s a fair way to characterize Cal’s 2011/2012 and 2013/2014 seasons.
The Bears chose, for first time since a college national championship was first organized back in 1982, to not participate in the postseason in the spring of 2012. Then in 2013 they lost the inaugural Varsity Cup final. For only the second time since ’82, Cal had gone back-to-back seasons without a national 15s title. (Air Force won consecutive championships in ’89 and ’90.)
Then they won their first CRC championship, and, at least in 7s, order has been restored with trophies going in the case for three-straight years. Not until last weekend had a senior class at Cal experienced a three-peat since that of ’08. Again, doesn’t sound like much of a slump, but for the Cal Bears, it was.
“Winning national championships is part of going to the University of California – Berkeley,” said Alec Glezter, one of three outgoing Cal seniors to play a massive role in the three-peat, “and all the teams do it, so it feels good.”
In one iteration or another, this question has been asked of Cal head coach Jack Clark probably hundreds of times over the years: does this championship feel as good as the others?
The hall of fame coach didn’t get to answer that question a whole lot recently. After the first three CRCs, he was probably being asked something more like this: is Cal ever going to win a CRC? And the last few years his Bears have entered the Varsity Cup final as underdogs. So, Coach Clark, does it feel good to be back to answering questions about if the 29th national championship feels as good as the first?
“You never compare them,” he told Rugby Today after Sunday’s overtime win over Kutztown, “because we love the guys that won last year and the year before last and every team we’ve ever coached, but yes it feels good.”
The three-headed class of super seniors featured prominently in the win. Gletzer and Jake Anderson came up with big plays. Gletzer laid the wood all weekend, but especially in the final when it was needed to combat physical Kutztown. Anderson was Cal’s danger man all weekend and scored the tournament winner in overtime of the final. Paul Bosco was an impact sub mostly, and it was his reluctance to let go of the ball that was first penalized and then led to a Kutztown yellow card at the end of regulation.
“Jake Anderson and Alec Gletzer were co-captains this year, and they’ve just been a great partnership. They’ve been great at kind of working with staff and just communicating and really making sure that everyone’s nose is pointed in the same direction,” said Clark.
“It’s really pleasing for those two guys, in particular, to go out on a winning note. They put so much into it that it’s just rewards to go out as champions. Paul Bosco’s had an outstanding career with us as well, and all three of those guys are going to be missed.”
It might be a bit overdramatic to suggest Anderson, Bosco and Gletzer restored Cal’s winning tradition, but they did cap off very good careers with consecutive championships.
“Captaining the team with Jake Anderson has been an unreal experience, and it’s a huge honor to be able to captain such a team with such a rich history,” said Gletzer. “I’m just happy to do the program justice and come back with another national championship.”