Following their trip to the Rugby World Cup with the U.S. National Team, former Golden Bears Colin Hawley and Blaine Scully have seized the rare opportunity to play in back-to-back quadrennial events with their selection to Team USA's Rugby Sevens team, which will vie for gold Saturday and Sunday in the Pan American Games at Tlaquepaque Stadium.
"To compete in events such as these is what sport is all about," said Scully, who, like Hawley, won multiple national collegiate championships and earned multiple All-America honors while at California.
With half as many players on the field in sevens, yet playing on the same size field, Scully and Hawley have been forced to adjust their mindsets quickly to transition from the RWC in New Zealand to the Pan Am Games in Mexico.
"You don't have 80 minutes to make your mark on a game; you only have 14," explained Hawley on the differences between the RWC and Pan Am formats. The shorter games in the sevens format mean that "essentially, its pedal to the medal as soon as you step on the field and you better make it count."
The U.S. team had only been home from New Zealand for two weeks before Hawley and Scully went to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to vie for spots on the Pan Am team.
"With a solid environment at the OTC and a two-week sevens camp under our belt, we will be ready for the challenge of six international games in two days," Scully said.
Both say their Cal experiences have prepared them for the challenges, both on and off the field.
Scully listed "the ability to prepare for an opponent and prepare as an athlete for a good performance, and the importance of being a good teammate, placing the team before individual accomplishments" among the most crucial things he learned as a Bear.
"Cal taught me what I should expect out of myself and how to constantly assess and evaluate my performances to improve, arguably one of the most important skills for a player," Scully added.
Hawley said, "Cal rugby is the foundation for my current abilities on and off the rugby pitch. The ability to critique myself and produce an honest answer has allowed me to work on what I need to and be prepared for every national team assembly."
Eight countries are competing in rugby at the Pan Am Games. The U.S. is in Pool B with Brazil, Canada and Chile. Pool A includes Argentina, Guyana, Mexico and Uruguay.
The United States men's National Sevens team is currently ranked No. 12 in the world. When the Summer Olympics welcome rugby back into the Games in Rio in 2016, it will be a 12-nation competition.
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