BERKELEY – Sixteen new student-athletes have joined the Golden Bears this fall as rugby embarks on its 133rd year as the oldest intercollegiate sport on campus at the University of California.
With an even split of eight forwards and eight backs, many with a Cal history in their families and most of whom attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Sumer Camps, the incoming class reflects a typical geographic profile in recent years, ranging from San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay to Sacramento and Southern California, with two international students from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, respectively.
“Really happy to have these boys with us at Cal,” said head coach Jack Clark. “They’re strong students with good athletic potential. Overall, a good fit for us.”
STRONG SACRAMENTO PRESENCE
Six new student-athletes have joined the team from the Sacramento area, five as freshmen and one as a transfer sophomore.
The collegiate rugby pipeline to Cal from Jesuit High School is alive and well, with three student-athletes coming to the Bears after finishing their careers with the Marauders. Jesuit, the 2014 Northern California champs who almost repeated in the spring as national champions, falling 27-26 in the NIT Single-School final, is coached by John Shorey and managed Fred Khasigian, a former U.S. international rugby player and father of former Bear All-Americans Kirk and Kyle Khasigian, with Kirk also a former U.S. international. Also on the Jesuit coaching staff is Jason Law, a former vice captain at Cal, 2011 All-American and national champion who earned two famed Blues in victories for Oxford University over Cambridge at Twickenham Stadium in 2011 and ’12.
Standing at 6-0 and 187 pounds is Matthew Coyle, a flyhalf/center from Granite Bay, Calif. Nine Cal alumni in his family include his father, William, who works in commercial real estate, and his uncle Richard, who rowed crew for the Bears. His mother, Julie, is a teacher who graduated from Chico State. Additional athletic connections in Coyle’s family include two cousins who played volleyball at UC San Diego and two grandfathers who played basketball at Michigan and football at Wisconsin, respectively. At Jesuit, Coyle had better than a 4.0 GPA while also competing in varsity football as a kicker, receiver and defensive back throughout high school in addition to two years of basketball. Coyle, who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, has a sister, Brooke, at Oregon. Following his collegiate career, the undeclared major hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree in business.
Zachary Tavenner is a 5-7, 167-pound wing from Sacramento who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2013 and ’14. During his Jesuit career, he was recognized by the Sacramento Bee as well as Sports Stars Magazine, a California high-school publication that named Tavenner its student-athlete of the week in the spring. Also a forward on the Jesuit soccer team as a freshman and sophomore, Zach was the starting outside center on Jesuit’s 2013 national championship rugby team and was named team MVP as a senior. He also earned academic honors as a senior. His mother, Cindy, is a commercial property manager; his brother, Steven, also played rugby at Jesuit. The undeclared Tavenner, whose great-grandfather Ignacio Paul Chavez also went to Cal to study engineering, may pursue business or computer science at the University.
Bringing his forward’s skills to the Bears from the Marauders is Trent Terra, a 6-2, 215-pounder from Carmichael, Calif., who is the third Jesuit alumnus to join Cal rugby this year. Slated to play flanker for the Blue and Gold, Terra attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. He was a starting lock on both the 2013 national championship team and the 2014 national runners-up, captaining the squad as a senior, when he was named the 2014 Forward of the Year by his coaches. On the gridiron, Terra played two years of high school football on the defensive line, starting as a tackle his senior season. Terra worked for the school yearbook among his extracurricular activities at Jesuit. His mother, Leigh Ann, is a project manager; his father, Sean, is a network analyst. Currently undeclared, he may pursue a degree in political science.
From Elk Grove, Calif., and Christian Brothers High School comes Ryan Hedum, a 6-0, 208-pound hooker who was a three-year Capital Valley Scholar Athlete as a member of the Falcons. Also a two-year veteran of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, Hedum was a two-sport captain at Christian Brothers in football, where he was a two-way lineman, and rugby, the latter under coaches Mason Gunn, Andy Smith, Jim Seruo, Bob Luttrell and Mike Jackson. Ryan’s mother, Diana, is a marketing professional who graduated from Chico State and played post-graduate club rugby; his father, Kyle, is an attorney who graduated from San Diego State. Two grandparents and a great uncle are Cal alumni. His uncle Mike Davis played football and rugby at UC Davis and his brother, Chris, played rugby at Oregon State. Hedum is progressing through post-operative rehabilitation with the goal of resuming rugby activities later this year. His major is undeclared.
Aidan Flynn is a 5-11, 185-pound flyhalf/center who graduated from McClatchy High School in Sacramento, where he earned AP Honors and was the president of his student body as a junior and senior. A veteran of four Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Flynn also played football for the Lions, lining up as a quarterback, running back, fullback, receiver, kicker, punter, returner and linebacker, earning all-league honors as a junior and senior, and captaining his final campaign. He also played baseball and soccer at McClatchy. Flynn was the rugby team captain for three years. His mother, Lara, is a legislative committee consultant and graduate of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle; his father, Owen, is a construction consultant who also graduated from Cornish and coached his son at McClatchy with fellow coaches Whit Poindexter and Brian Charter. Aidan also played rugby for Land Park Motley youth under coaches Matthew Eason and Cal rugby parent and alumnus Rich Boyer with his brother, Hunter, who attends San Francisco State. His sister, Montana, is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara. An undeclared academic major, Flynn may pursue a science career in field research.
A graduate of Granite Bay High School is Beau Hershberger, who played for the Granite Bay Youth Area Club and comes to Cal as a sophomore having spent his freshman year at the University of Nevada, where he was a scholarship football player. Standing at 6-2 and 235 pounds, Beau is slated to play back row for the Bears. At Granite Bay he was also an Academic All-American and a first-team all-state and MaxPreps All-America football player for the Grizzlies when they won the CIF Division I state title in 2012, edging Long Beach Poly, 21-20. He additionally competed for Granite Bay is wrestling and baseball. On the rugby pitch under coach John Kimble, his team won the Northern California championship in 2011. His father, Greg, is a business owner and his mother, Karen, is a homemaker; both graduated from Chico State. His sister, Brooke, is a senior volleyball player at Granite Bay. Hershberger is considering legal studies as a major at the University.
BROAD MIX FROM BAY AREA
Two players make the move to Berkeley having played their youth rugby north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
Under head coach and former Cal rugby player Dave Cingolani, Felix Le Merle was a rugby starter as a flanker and hooker for three years, two as a member of the Highlanders Rugby Club and one, in 2013-14, for the newly formed North Bay Wildcats, advancing to the National Invitational Tournament all three campaigns. Le Merle, who hails from Tiburon, captained the nascent Wildcats as a senior. An attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Felix graduated from Marin Catholic High School, where he also captained his freshman, JV and varsity football teams as a fullback and defensive end, earning all-league defensive recognition as a senior. In the classroom, Le Merle was a member of the Dean’s List and National Honor Society for his GPA above 3.75. His mother, Alison, a board member of several companies, attended Cambridge prior to Harvard Business School; his father, Matthew, was an Oxford undergraduate who played rugby for the London Welsh prior to his MBA at Stanford Business School and his current career as tech-company board member and angel investor. The elder Mr. Le Merle also rowed at Oxford and in the Masters division for the Marin County Rowing Association. Felix’s siblings include brothers Louis, a sophomore on the Cal rugby team, and Max, who attends Trinity College (CT); sister, Tallulah, at Oxford (UK); and youngest brother, Leo, a freshman rugby player for North Bay. An avid musician, Felix is considering geography, political science and developmental studies as academic majors with an eye toward business school.
Schuyler Whiting is a 6-0, 192-pound center/flyhalf who calls his hometown Kentfield, Calif., and his high school alma mater San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Preparatory School, where he was a four-year Honor Roll student. Like Le Merle, Whiting was a member of both the Highlanders and North Bay youth clubs, and a 2013 Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp attendee. He also played football at SI as a starting running back and safety. Extracurricular activities included his editorship of a high-school literary magazine and a seven-year run as a drummer in a band. His mother, Nicole, is a yoga therapist who graduated from UC Santa Cruz; his father, Ken, is an attorney who graduated magna cum laude at Washington before earning a Master’s degree at Stanford and his JD at the University of Chicago. Whiting’s great uncle played football for UCLA and two cousins ran track at the University of Pennsylvania. His grandmother Dee Ann DeAvilla also attended Cal. An undeclared major, Schuyler is considering law and finance as possible professional pursuits.
To the east, De La Salle High School sends two graduates to Cal after the Spartans finished their spring rugby season as runners-up in the Northern California championships. The staff at DLS includes coaches Rob Duncanson and Matt Fahey; assistants Ray Meadows, Mike Sagehorn and Ed Barfels; and operations staff Ed Christiansen and Rick Medeiros.
From Alamo, Calif., comes Brian Joyce, a 5-10, 244-pound prop and high school Honor Student who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps three times. On the gridiron he was a member of the Spartans’ 2012 California Open Division state championship team and the starting center on the 2013 team, earning first-team all-league honors. Joyce was named Most Valuable Forward on the team in 2013 and ’14. His mother, Beth, is a school teacher who graduated from Georgia; his father, is a Notre Dame graduate and the CEO of an information technology company. His brother, Brendan, graduated from Cal in 2012. Brian is an undeclared major.
Also coming from DLS, where he was an Honor Student, is Michael Goodwin, a 5-9, 161-pound scrumhalf from Concord, Calif. A captain his final two years and the MVP of the Spartans rugby team in 2013, Goodwin attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps for two years and also played from 2007-10 on the Lamorinda Youth Rugby Club. His mother, Kelly, is a Cal alumna who works as a kidney transplant coordinator at California Pacific Medical Center; his father, Kenneth, is a bond broker who graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Michael’s grandmother Jacqueline Van Bokkelen also graduated from Cal and his great grandfather William Van Bokkelen played basketball at Washington. He has three sisters, including Grace, who graduated from Loyola Marymount. An Eagle Scout and black belt in Tae Kwan Do, Goodwin may pursue a business major at the University.
Under the leadership of former Bears head coach and Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Ned Anderson and fellow Cal rugby alumnus Matt Taylor – both of whose sons also played for the Rugby Bears – Lamorinda has sent two additional players to Berkeley to begin their collegiate campaigns in 2014-15.
The captain of the forwards on Lamorinda’s varsity team the past two seasons was Peter Golesorkhi, a 5-9, 194-pound hooker from Moraga, Calif., who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer camp in 2013 and graduated from Campolindo High School. On the gridiron for the Cougars, he was a defensive lineman who earned first-team all-league honors as a senior. His mother, Soraya, is a real estate agent who graduated from Tufts; his father, Ramin, is geotechnical engineer who received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Tufts before earning a Ph.D. in civil engineering at Cal. Peter’s two brothers, Nicolas and Alex, graduated from Colorado and Utah, respectively. His uncle Samir Giha was a wrestler at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Currently undeclared, Golesorkhi is interested in possible career pursuits as an entrepreneur or investment banker.
The other Lamorinda veteran among Cal’s new players is the 6-0, 186-pound William Fuller, who played wing on the rugby pitch for three years and scored 11 tries his senior season. Born in Maryland and raised in Orinda, Calif., Fuller is a graduate of Miramonte High School, where he was a four-time Scholar Athlete and two-time winner of the Presidential Service Award for giving over 200 hours of community service. He was a first-team all-league selection as a senior in football, with 59 receptions and 16 TDs as his Matadors gridiron team won the Division II sectional title in 2013, and an all-league track and field selection after winning the high-jump title. His mother, Anne, is a high-school college and career counselor who graduated from Indiana; his father, also William, is an attorney who graduated from Stanford. Fuller also has a grandfather who swam for the Cardinal. A big brother to two younger sisters, Fuller has not declared an academic major.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ON THE SCENE
Conor Lydon played for eight years on the Santa Monica Rugby Club and captained the team in 2013. He ended his pre-college career with the 2014 Southern California championship as a 6-2, 214-pound back-rower and lock, and is slated to play flanker and No. 8 for the Bears. At the 2014 U-18 National Invitationals, his SMRC team earned second-place and Lydon was named Man of the Match in the semifinals. Other accomplishments for the Santa Monica club during Lydon’s career included back-to-back titles at both the California State Games 7s and the Serevi Cup 7s Series. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Lydon attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, and graduated from Loyola High School. Conor’s grandfather Charlie Lydon was an international test rugby player for Ireland and also played at University College Dublin; another grandfather, Dom O’Connell, played provincial rugby for Munster; a great grandfather was also a provincial player at Ulster. His father, Charlie, is a senior vice president at Wells Fargo and an NYU graduate who played provincial rugby for Connacht in Ireland; his mother, Ciara, is a homemaker. Lydon also has a younger sister. Currently undeclared, he is considering business as a possible major at the University.
Santa Monica’s opponents in the 2014 SoCal championship were the San Diego Mustangs, from which John Goenacomes to the Bears as a 5-11, 199-pound fullback and wing. Known as Jake, Goena was born in Chicago and raised in Del Mar, Calif., graduating from Torrey Pines High School, where he also played football as a running back and linebacker, earning team defensive MVP honors and a slot on the 2013 All-Academic team. A 2013 attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp, Goena captained the Mustangs rugby team as a senior under a coaching staff that includes Matty Sandoval and former Cal All-American and U.S. International Ramon Samaniego. His father, Steve, is a business owner who graduated from San Diego State; his mother, Chris, is a recruiting professional who graduated from Ohio State. The undeclared Goena, who has three younger siblings, may pursue a business degree at the University with the goal of working toward an MBA.
HONG KONG AND LONDON CALLING
From Shouson, Hong Kong, arrives Hugo D’Auriol, a 6-1, 182-pound fullback/center who graduated from The South Island School and attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. Hugo played rugby with the Valley Men’s Team, an area club, and competed for his school in track and field and swimming. Holder of an International Baccalaureate Certificate, D’Auriol also played rugby for Hong Kong at the U-20 level. His mother, Claudia, is a fashion consultant who graduated from Bryn Mawr College; his father, Guy, is a founding partner of a private asset management firm. Two siblings include sister Anna at Middlesex University (UK) and a younger brother who plays rugby for the Shawnison Lake School in Hong Kong. His academic major is undeclared.
A 6-2, 245-pound prop and flanker, Alexander de Gentile-Williams was born in London, where he played rugby for The Harrow School under former U.S. international Jesse Coulson, a scrumhalf who played at the 1999 Rugby World Cup under USA head coach Jack Clark. Known as Sacha, de Gentile-Williams was a member of both the English Schools selects and the London Wasps Academy Elite Player Development Group. At Harrow he also captained the golf team. An attendee of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2012, de Gentile-Williams enjoyed extracurricular activities at Harrow that included his school’s a capella group, the practice of cello and double bass, and the role of youth cricket coach. His mother, Jackie, is a school registrar who graduated from Bristol University; his father, Patric, is an investment manager who graduated from Cambridge after playing high-school rugby for the Lycee Francais of London. Two of de Gentile-Williams’ uncles also played rugby for the Beaconsfield RFC senior team in the UK. His two sisters include Anastasia, who attends University College London. Currently undeclared, he could pursue business as an academic major.
The 2014-15 campaign kicks off with the fall 7s schedule, starting October 11 at the West Coast 7s at Cal Poly and culminating November 8-9, when Cal hosts the PAC Sevens Tournament on Witter Rugby Field. In January the Bears transition to spring 15s, ending with the Varsity Cup National Championships before the team finishes the year at the 2015 Collegiate Rugby Championship, where it will compete in the 7s code slated to return to Olympic medal competition at the 2016 Summer Games.