In an unprecedented achievement, eight former Golden Bears have been selected - seven as players and one as an assistant coach - to the U.S. National Team for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, commencing for the USA on September 11 against Ireland, a match to be broadcast by tape delay at 10 a.m. PT on NBC.
The University celebrated following the August 22 announcement that Chris Biller, Eric Fry, Mike MacDonald, Brian McClenahan and Louis Stanfill have been named to the forwards, while Colin Hawley and Blaine Scully were selected as backs for the trip to New Zealand, where the U.S. will also face Australia, Italy and Russia as part of the 20-nation competition in Pool C.
They will be coached in part by fellow California alumnus Matt Sherman, another former Cal captain who is serving as the national team's backs coach at the RWC.
These eight former Rugby Bears, seven of whom served as captains during their collegiate careers in blue and gold, comprise almost 25 percent of the playing roster, a bigger presence on the U.S. National Team than any other rugby team in America, at any level.
Entering the Rugby World Cup - the world's largest sporting event in 2011 and the third-most-viewed sporting event in the world after the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup - 48 different Cal players have made a total of 520 test appearances for the national team since the contemporary structure of U.S. international rugby began in 1976.
"These were very competitive roster places to earn," said Bears head coach Jack Clark. "It's hard to express how proud we are of these young men.
Although the credit always belongs to the men in the arena, our University can certainly take some pride in this achievement. In a material way, these national team selections validate Cal's daily training environment and our ability to develop international-caliber athletes."
Clark himself is a former U.S. National Team player, head coach and general manager, while fellow Cal coach Tom Billups is also a former national team player and captain who later became head coach of the team, as well.
MacDonald, who enters his third RWC tied for the most international appearances in U.S. history with 62, plays professionally for Leeds Carnegie in England, while Stanfill, set to play in his second RWC with 26 international appearances, recently completed a professional contract with the Italian club Mogliano.
Biller embarks on the RWC with 13 internationals under his belt, Fry enters the RWC with five international appearances and McClenahan will seek to build on his two caps.
Hawley takes four international appearances into the RWC while Scully will seek to build on his four internationals after wrapping up his Cal career with a national collegiate championship victory over BYU in May.
Sherman followed up his playing career at Cal with two seasons as an assistant coach on the Bears staff under Clark before moving on to become the head coach at San Diego State and Stanford, his current team. He earned seven international appearances with the national team as a player.
All of these individuals earned their first caps during or shortly after their Cal careers with the exception of McClenahan, who changed positions from prop to hooker with the Olympic Club in San Francisco following his collegiate career.
All four U.S. pool-play matches at the Rugby World Cup will be available on TV, broadcast live or by delay on NBC, while the entire slate of RWC fixtures are available live by pay-per-view at Universal Sports.
NBC is also the network carrying the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where rugby will be reintroduced as medal sport. If it qualifies, the U.S. will be the defending champion after winning gold medals at 1920 and '24 Games.
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