Former California All-Americans Blaine Scully and Colin Hawley have accepted contracts funded by the United States Olympic Committee to train full-time at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., with the U.S. National 7s Team.
By accepting these contracts, Scully and Hawley have placed themselves among the first-ever players to sign such deals with USA Rugby.
"We are both incredibly honored to be chosen for the USOC/USA Rugby contracts," said Scully, who, with Hawley, played for the U.S. in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. "It is a validation for us as athletes and tremendous because this selection makes us an integral part to rugby's move into the Olympic arena."
Rugby Sevens is set to be reintroduced as a medal sport at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The U.S. won gold medals in rugby at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Games with six Golden Bears on those teams.
While several former Bears have enjoyed contracted opportunities overseas, Scully and Hawley are the first two Cal rugby alumni to secure a domestic financial agreement.
"I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a home-based professional for the United States," said Hawley. "The feeling is surreal and I just want to do this opportunity justice by giving it my all."
The contracts enable their recipients to train in the high-performance environment provided by the OTC and maintain a centralized residence in San Diego, giving them access to "amenities to be successful athletes competing on the world stage," Scully said. "The infrastructure in place there not only helps athletes achieve their potential, but puts people on the podium."
Both players thank their Cal experience for their continued success.
"As a member of the Cal rugby program, professionalism is expected, sport is a study and being a member of a high-performance team has real value," said Scully. "Any success in my career can be attributed to my time at Cal."
Added Hawley: "Current Cal ruggers and all of the up-and-coming rugby players in America can take confidence in the fact that opportunities for a professional rugby career are on the rise in the U.S. This is a huge step forward which proves rugby is pioneering into new and exciting territory and I believe the future is a bright one."
Cal head coach Jack Clark said, "These two boys are perfect Cal ambassadors to rugby's Olympic aspirations. It is a red-letter day day for our rugby program."
The 2012 Rugby Bears moved into the Olympic Wing of the Simpson Center for the Student-Athlete High Performance on the campus of the University of California this past autumn.
Scully, Hawley and their teammates on the U.S. National 7s Team next assemble to prepare for the IRB 7s World Series starting Feb. 3-4 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The Barbarians are one of the top invitational rugby sides with a long history and classic rugby jersey.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Lions get ready for their matches with this green training jersey. It's what the players wear. Get in the Gear!
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.