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In 2001, in Virginal Beach, Virginia, the Golden Bears won their eleventh national collegiate championship in a row with a sound thumping of Penn State. The score: 86-11.
At a windswept Sportsplex, Cal, playing with four Pan Am Games Eagles, dominated play from the opening whistle.
The nation's number one ranked fifteen waltzed through the two opening rounds, recording lopsided victories against Virginia, 77-5, and Air Force 69-6. In the semis versus Navy, California led 22-0 at the halftime. By the ninth minute in the second period, Cal was comfortably in the lead 27-5. Cal pushed ahead 34-10 and it seemed the Midshipmen had no reply. But then the gates of opportunity opened, and Navy scored 17-points to make the score 34-27. Had Navy been successful on their missed conversions (four), they would have upset the nation’s leading fifteen.
In the other bracket, a surprising Penn State, ranked 15, started with a major upset win against second ranked Wyoming, 14-12. The Nittany Lions followed with an identical score victory against Central Washington, and then, a close 27-25 win against eastern rival Army ranked third in the tournament. Three wins at two points each had propelled an underdog into the 2001 finals.
In the last game California outscored their opponent fourteen tries to one to run away with the match. Multiple Cal players scored multiple tries, notably, sophomore prop Mike MacDonald who notched two. He would later become a heralded Eagle who enjoyed a long and productive rugby career in the UK. In 2004, he would be named MVP of this tournament.
The MVP award of the 2001 event went to Cal's sophomore wing, Cameron Bunce. He scored four tries in the tournament.
All concurred that host Virginal Beach had done an outstanding job of running the event with USA Rugby. A serendipitous bonus came when an unnamed Norfolk Blues Old Boy donated international sized goalposts, which replaced the field's football posts.
Cal proved again, when compared with all other university programs, that the school was - in the Latin phrase of praise - a "primus inter pares," a first among equals.