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Cal Rugby wins Collegiate Rugby Championship for the 4th straight time, and earns program's 31st national championships

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For the first time since the Bears start to compete in both rugby union and 7s national championships in the same year, Golden Bears have won the double.

Golden Bears champs again!
Golden Bears champs again!
Ruey Yen

CHESTER, PA (Talen Energy Stadium) - June 5th, 2016 will go down in Cal history as the day when Cal added not one but two national championships to its storied history. After Cal men's crew won their 17th national championship in program history, California Golden Bears rugby won its 4th straight rugby 7s national championship, and the 31st in program history when counting both 15s and 7s.

The California Golden Bears defeated a familiar foe in UCLA Bruins in the final. Yes, the younger sibling school is getting better in rugby, but nope, they have to wait for their first rugby national championship.

Golden Bears defeated UCLA 31-7 in the final. Goena scored the first try of the match for the Bears in the 2nd minute. Captain Russell Webb made the tough conversion from an angle. That would remain the lone score of the match going into the half.

Senior Jesse Milne, who was eventually named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament championship game added a try for the Bears (Webb made the conversion) , 2 minutes into the 2nd half, and the Bears were ahead 14-0.

Another senior Patrick Barrientes added the next score for the Bears to make it 19-0. UCLA finally answered with a try of their own at this point with conversion. But mere seconds later, Cal senior Anthony Salaber answer with another Golden Bears try. Salaber got one more try as time expires and the Bears are champions again from Chester, PA for the 4th straight year.

Congratulations to head coach Jack Clark and "the boys" for another fine tournament at the Collegiate Rugby Championships. There were certainly moments on the weekend, when it looks like the Golden Bears' championship winning streak would be snapped, but the Bears prevailed like the champs that they are.

It was a fine performance by the Bears, particularly the senior class - few of them have been involved with all 4 Cal rugby 7s championship wins. Kudos to the entire squad.

Watch the NBC highlight of the championship game below:

Here is the Cal celebration:

Cal routed Arizona in the semifinal, here are the highlights:

Cal beats Arkansas State for Pool A title (from Saturday) highlights:

Some extra (Monday) thoughts on the Cal Rugby season as a whole. Us fans now and future fans looking back upon this year will certainly remember this Cal Rugby squad (lumping both Rugby 15s and 7s together since one is just a subset of the other) as the first group to win both the 15s (Varsity Cup) and the 7s (Collegiate Rugby Championship). What is particularly interesting, however, is that this is far from the most dominant Cal squad in just recent history.

If you look back upon the Varsity Cup run, the Bears had to come from behind at Army in the quarterfinals and then just hang on to win by a point over Central Washington. The Golden Bears were such an underdog in the Varsity Cup final, that BYU probably were overconfident in their preparations.

The Rugby 7s are of course, a different story. The CRC is a tournament where the Bears were favored again coming in (BYU does not participate in the CRC). However, the Bears had a tough draw with Arkansas State also in the group (Arkansas State has been an East coast rugby powerhouse but this was only the 2nd year of them participating in the CRC). To play Arkansas State again in the quarterfinals was no sure victory for the Bears. Nevertheless, the Bears played like champions. Even when they fell behind 14-0, the squad never panicked. The Bears methodically drove down the field and got their equalizer. What is the most impressive was how well the Bears defended Arkansas State's final drive, before turning it into one final try to mask how close that match was. Bears also overcame losing Harry Adolphus to an injury and then Will Fuller (who scored 3 tries in the semi) in the championship final.

In short, we should remember this 2016 Cal Rugby squad for their resilience; Bears faced more close calls in this season than in years past. Cal Rugby has dominated for some long that often us fans just take it for granted that Cal will roll over the opponents. This year's team, on the other hand, is much scrappier. They may not be the most talented Cal Rugby teams (just in the last 7 years when the Bears compete for two national championships per year*), but this is the team that will go down in the history books as the first to complete the double.


*The proper number to compare to may be 6 as one of the year before the Varsity Cup was formed, the Golden Bears didn't compete in a Rugby 15s national championship.