BERKELEY – Directed by Hall of Fame head coach Jack Clark, staffed by fellow former national team player and coach Tom Billups and most-capped U.S. international Mike MacDonald, and joined by high-performance experts along with current varsity players from every position group on the pitch, the 2014 Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp continues its tradition as one of the oldest and most prestigious assemblies of its kind with two exciting sessions this summer: July 28-31 for boys age 14-18 and August 2 for boys age 9-14.
Many of the most important players in the history of Cal and United States rugby have been identified at this camp at the home of the Golden Bears. Among the luminaries who have launched their rugby careers during summers at the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp are MacDonald, who retired as a player this spring with an all-time record of 67 appearances on the U.S. National Team after an All-America collegiate career at Cal; former Cal All-American and current USA Eagles Louis Stanfill; former Cal All-American and current Stanford head coach Matt Sherman; and former Cal All-American and U.S. National Team player Colin Hawley.
“Going to the Cal Rugby Summer Camp was an important and exciting step toward my collegiate and, eventually, international rugby career,” said Hawley, who became the first Cal alumnus to earn a residency contract at the Olympic Training Center financed by the United States Olympic Committee after his graduation. “With its high-performance environment staffed by such talented players and coaches, the camp offers every aspiring rugby player an unparalleled on-campus experience.”
Cal continues its relationship this summer with Nike, who for years has been the team’s main sponsor and apparel provider. The Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp is an independent entity coordinated in conjunction with US Sports Camps, which offers sessions in 15 sports from its headquarters in San Rafael, Calif., as the official operator of Nike Sports Camps. Founded in 1975, USSC is the nation’s largest sports camp network, with more than 65,000 campers last year.
“We are hopeful that aligning our camp with USSC isn’t confusing for prospective campers,” said coach Clark. “It seems like there are a lot of Nike camps to which we have no connection. Indications are we’re heading for our earliest camp sellout ever, so the transition to USSC appears to be working. In any case, our Nike connection is long standing and extends through our team to the camp.”
Campers stay on campus at the University of California and hone their games on Witter Rugby Field, home of the Golden Bears rugby program. Attendees at the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp receive instruction and analysis with an approximately 8:1 player-to-staff ratio, with off-the-field studies in a variety of topics including rugby skills, academic advising, strength and conditioning, nutrition and drug awareness with Department of Athletics professionals and other special guests. The largest contingent of campers is comprised of rising seniors whose college futures are fast approaching in the November application window.
Among the guest instructors and presenters will be Dr. Phil Wagner, Founder and Coach at Applied Research at SPARTA Performance Science, whose high-performance seminar covers material that also serves Dr. Wagner’s clients from Major League Baseball and the National Football League. The lineup of campus professionals scheduled to speak with campers includes Dr. Derek Van Rheenen, PhD., the Director of the Athletic Study Center at the University.
In addition to their daily training sessions and orientation of the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance, campers are led through their days at seminars and clinics, with afternoon competitions featuring controlled match conditions which evolve into full contact. All meals are provided on campus and evening video analysis offer players valuable feedback on their progress before each night ends with overnight campers checked in at an on-campus dormitory.
Participants at the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp benefit from the same high-performance environment that has helped the Golden Bears, founded in 1882 and the oldest team in Cal Intercollegiate Athletics, earn 126 All-America honors and make 615 appearances and counting on the U.S. National Team for 15s. Campers learn the same fundamentals that have served as the bedrock for Cal rugby’s 26 national collegiate titles in 15s earned since 1980, two consecuitve national 7s crowns at the 2013 and '14 Collegiate Rugby Championships and two gold medals at the Summer Olympics, where rugby will return as a medal sport at the 2016 Rio Games. Two other recent Cal rugby alumni in addition to Hawley have also received contracts financed by the USOC in the 7s version of the game.
At the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp, all campers' well-being is administered to by athletic training staff from Intercollegiate Athletics. All attendees are provided camp jerseys and campers’ hydration needs are fulfilled by camp sponsor Gatorade. Laundry services are tended to by IA Equipment Services.
Nestled in Strawberry Canyon on the campus of the University of California, Witter Rugby Field is a multi-million-dollar venue built in 1995 as a dedicated rugby facility with electronic scoreboards on the east and west ends, towering goalposts and permanent kicking nets. On and off the pitch, campers at the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp are supervised 24 hours a day, including at the dormitories, where the staff lives with the campers and participates in evening activities.
For more information and to register for the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp, visit calbears.com/camps. Questions by phone regarding the camp registration process can also be directed to Nike Rugby Camps at 800-645-3226. For all other camp-related questions, please contact the Cal Rugby Director of Operations, Jerry Figone, at 510-643-1971.