Men’s Rugby on Edge at Cal

We’re continuing to keep an eye on the athletic department at UC-Berkeley, and the latest news is that the supporters of the men’s rugby team are getting nervous about possibly being downgraded to club status. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The most successful sports program in Cal history is fearful it may be downgraded to club status.

The men’s rugby team, winner of 25 national championships since 1980, is particularly anxious as the entire athletic department braces for anticipated cuts related to both budget concerns and gender-equity requirements.

Coach Jack Clark, with 21 national titles during his tenure at Berkeley, is rallying support for rugby to retain its varsity status. He has written to and met with athletic director Sandy Barbour, and a number of major donors to both the program and the university at large have contacted the AD as well.

A reminder: we took a look at the numbers at Cal a few months back, and to say it doesn’t look promising for a number of teams would be an understatement. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I got a clarification from my friend Buzz McClain, editor of Rugby Buzz, and it’s an important one. We need to keep in mind that men’s rugby, unlike women’s rugby, isn’t an official NCAA sport. So, if Cal dropped men’s rugby to club status, it wouldn’t prevent the team from competing in the existing national club championships.

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