Email between the Rugby Coaches Ode to Stanfurd Rugby-MP3
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Email correspondence between Cal and Stanford rugby coaches.

Franck Boivert wrote:

On Saturday March 10 2001, Stanford Rugby held a meeting with the members of the Stanford Rugby Foundation, the Stanford Athletics Director Ted Leland , the club President, Captain and leaders of the Stanford Rugby Club and myself.

We discussed among other topics, the issue of the forfeit against Cal this coming April 7. There was no unanimous opinion by all participants. However the Stanford Rugby Foundation Board, the Athletic Director and the Coach agreed that the decision belonged to the players and to the team only, and that whatever the decision was they would support it.

The team had another meeting the next day and again decided that it was best to forfeit the game. They asked me to be their spokesman to Cal Rugby, the Northern California Rugby College league and the Stanford Rugby Alumni.

All of us at Stanford are deeply disappointed not to be able to carry the traditional game of Rugby between the two schools.

The team honestly thinks that it will be detrimental to the tradition to challenge Cal this year, as we would be unable to field a starting 15 that can play with the Cal team. Every year (even the years we played Cal in the final of Nationals, and the year we beat them) we carry only 16 to 20 capable first team players. This year was worse with only 11to 12. Unfortunately we suffered injuries that ruled out for the rest of the season 5 first team players. We do not have the replacements for these players. The team has struggled physically all year, as all the sides we played are much stronger physically. Therefore the majority of players played hurt the whole season, and now they are burned out and do not have the heart to play a team vastly superior to them in size, weight and speed.

Taking the field against Cal this year would make a mockery out of the so-called "Big Game". The Stanford Rugby players have too much respect for the tradition and their predecessors from Stanford and Cal to ridicule this tradition. When there is a rivalry both rivals are on a similar level of competitiveness. When a feather weight is to fight a heavy weight, there is no rivalry, it is a farce, just like if a VW Bug was to race against a "Formula 1" car. Stanford playing Cal in rugby has reached this farcical stage, and Stanford Rugby wants to be no part of a farce.

Cal has offered to "dilute" their team in order to make the game competitive. This proposal has provoked much controversy and several sources very close to the Cal team pointed out that it would make no difference as the Cal second team may be the second best team in the Nation. Cal has also offered to look at this game as a learning experience. The Stanford players see no learning in being physically overrun and outmatched by a huge team, and views it more as a miserable afternoon.

Cal and others have pointed out that the fear of losing should not be an excuse for a forfeit. Stanford has no fear of losing versus Cal as they have done so every year but one for the last 20 years. They are, however, very afraid to get injured and indeed fear for their safety. The Stanford Rugby players are all recreational athletes and the injury toll they had to pay this season is just too much.

Stanford also requests the league to allow them to play second division next year, even if Davis loses to Chico (Davis would go down) as our roster is nowhere as impressive as UC Davis' current roster of 3 teams with very capable athletes.

So what about the future of the rivalry between Stanford and Cal? I am afraid the two programs are going in two different directions. Cal has professionalised their organization to a point of excellence similar to other varsity sports college programs. Stanford is still a Rugby club for students. The impressive presentation from Ted Leland last Saturday reinforces that perspective. Stanford provides outstanding services to its rugby players, but it will never be in the foreseeable future a varsity program that can engage in recruiting athletes for rugby.

The only argument that concerns the Stanford Rugby players is the commitment that is expected from them if they are part of the first division league. As members of the first division they are to play Cal like all other teams. The answer is that in fact Cal is not in the same league. There is no parity between the programs, and not between Stanford and Cal. Who would imagine a college sport like football where one team has varsity status and basically recruits the best players and other teams in their league would be just club sports who recruits through flyers on their own campus? Every body would laugh at that, and would not take it seriously. Well this is exactly the situation in College Rugby. In Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, college championship is divided in club sports championship and varsity championship out of fairness; it will have to be the same in Rugby.

The question of the future of the Cal- Stanford game still remains. Maybe some year Stanford will have a team physically strong enough to challenge Cal, or may be one-day Rugby will be again a sport for the students.

Franck Boivert
Stanford Rugby Coach


Reply from: Jack Clark [mailto:jclark@usa-eagles.org]

Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 5:11 PM
To: Franck Boivert
Subject: Stanford letter of forfeit

Dear Franck:

On behalf of the University of California rugby program we acknowledge receipt of your March 14, 2001 forfeit of the Cal v. Stanford fixture slated for April 7, 2001 at Stanford. As I have shared previously, my personal disappointment is immense. To cancel a match that has been played through the Great Depression and World Wars is a consequential decision. This unease must also be felt in the Stanford student body, alumni and athletic administration. We were hopeful that respect for this tradition would prevail in your Rugby Foundation meeting of the 10th of March, but are understanding of their position. How can you demand that a team contest a match, if the team doesn't want to? I'm sure it is a position that these proud individuals could never have contemplated.

We are similarly non-judgmental towards your players who were asked to vote on honoring this fixture. I can only imagine the confusion of those team members who desired to play. As custodians of this tradition, our approaches differ. I would have regarded the players' uncertainties in honoring this match as a significant coaching opportunity. But again, as stated in my earlier correspondence, I believe that coaching is a medium for life's lessons, not merely an exercise in winning and losing.

We do however take great umbrage at the content of your letter of forfeit. To suggest that your forfeiture of this match is in any manner helpful to the tradition, safety related, prudent or respectful is disingenuous. I found this to be a pathetic 'spin job'. I am in awe of your ability to continually lower the setting of the bar for Stanford rugby, without being challenged. To repeatedly insist that there are insurmountable structural advantages between our programs is a ridiculous overstatement. You have made an unpleasant habit of falsely detailing Cal's rugby advantages over Stanford. Naturally, we are proud that our players receive a varsity letter as the symbol of the 'Big C' is prestigious, but it is only symbolic. The similarities between our programs that you refuse to witness are far more essential. Neither program offers rugby scholarships or rugby specific financial aid of any type. Both institutions have lofty admissions requirements. We both likewise enjoy long successful histories, loyal generous alumni support, meaningful on campus support, good facilities and a paid coaching position.

Does Stanford have a smaller student body? Yes. Is Stanford's tuition more expensive? Yes. But, let's be clear, we are building a rugby program at Cal with student athletes who are academically and in many cases financially eligible for Stanford. With Stanford's wealth of rugby resources your continual 'poor mouthing' has grown old. A quick glance at this season's comparative results would suggest Cal as the favorite in a competitive 2001 match. We make no apologies for our recent success in this fixture; it is inherent in our University's culture to 'front up' to Stanford wherever a contest exists. We acknowledge all too often Stanford as the deserving victor, but never fail to compete.

Lastly, I found your closing comment concerning rugby one day being "again a sport for the students" insulting to the very ethos of sport. How dare you not compete and belittle the accomplishments of those who do.

Jack E. Clark
Head Rugby Coach
University of California


Sidewinder posted on 4/4 7:03 pm  - at TheBootleg.com
re: Rugby Wimps
This is a copy of an email sent by the Stanford rugby coach to people who inquired about the situation:


Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2001 6:22 PM
Subject: Re: Stanford vs. Cal

Sorry to have kept all of you waiting for an answer for your emails about
Cal game, but as you know we (Stanford Rugby) were on spring break tour
and just got back.

However I kept in touch with the affair of the Cal game.
Because of the distortion of facts and misinformation from media who know
nothing about rugby, especially Stanford Rugby who never receives ever
Media attention, all members of the team including me are under
instructions not to speak to any one. Especially not to speak to the media
about it since all we said in the only private letter to Jack Clark was
leaked to the media (by Jack Clark, we suppose) and of course the
sentences manipulated and taken out of context.

The media explosion on a team that had one supporter all year long (the
father of a player), has prompted 3 types of responses.

1/ those who are very close to the program or to collegiate rugby, and are
well informed of the situation. They support the team fully.

2/ the alum and supporters who are not well informed, not close to the
program and have been misinformed by the media campaign orchestrated by
Jack Clark.

3/ all those who are totally ignorant of the reality of Rugby, are unknown
people to me, are not rugby people and send gross insults, threats and
other comments fueled by the hate of their ignorance on which the circus
of the media campaign plays on.

It is interesting to note that we got no reaction from Cal rugby players
and all collegiate rugby and rugby people&#8230;

Obviously this letter is for all our dear alum and supporters in order to
inform, as they deserve it more than any one.

The team does want to play Cal and will always have the desire to play
But this year the team cannot play Cal for common sense reasons.
We do not have 15 first team players at the end of the season because of
injuries and surgeries.
It is as simple as that, but of course there are more things to be said.

The team and Stanford rugby at large is more determined than ever in not
playing because of the stupid media campaign by Jack Clark and the circus
that it created at the expense of truth. In this campaign we were outraged
by the amount of lies and exaggerations concerning Stanford Rugby.
We were also amused by the fact that J Clark has the hypocrisy of
lecturing others on forfeiting when he did exactly the same twice recently
by forfeiting games to University of Victoria no later than last week and
in 1997 during their tour for less honorable reasons than ours.

The suggestion by some to take the field no matter what with unprepared
players is not possible under the safety guidelines of contact sport. (The
safety guidelines in rugby have been promoted and drafted by J Clark
himself in the USA). That is, if the player gets injured because he did
not receive the proper training, the coach (and the athletic Dpt) are
responsible&#8230;and liable. Therefore we are not allowed to play under these circunstances.

The second team/JV players that we have in our rugby class are not fit to
play Cal, they are very small (170 lbs in average vs 230 lbs Cal players)
and they do not come to practice or play regularly as they are only week
end athletes. They can surely play against people of same size and skills
but not against international players (5 on Cal team) or NFL prospects
(lock for Cal). Plus we are not even sure they will show up on game
day&#8230;because rugby is not that important for them as it is for us.

2 years ago, in the second team match our freshman hooker got seriously
hurt (neck) versus Cal whose pack was twice the size of ours. The moments
after the injury were agonizing ones for us (paralysis?). After that we
had decided with Cal not to play the seconds game as it was too dangerous
and all rugby experts know better.
We are in the same situation for the first team this year because of the
depletion of our first team.

To suggest that the team gives up and so on is pure ignorance, and we need
your help to fight this ignorance and irresponsible thinking.

The manipulation of the information came from the email I sent Jack where
I express my concern at the disparity between the college rugby programs,
therefore threatening the college competition and traditions like the
Stanford -Cal game.

The disparity is not only between Cal and Stanford but also between Cal
and other programs as the 2001 results attest.

There is no criticism of the program of Cal and its excellence, good for
them and good for the sons of some of my friends who are in it.
There is a big difference between the 2 programs as you all know, we are a
club sports only and therefore depend entirely on the student body.
In my email, I mention the presentation by Ted Leland Stanford AD at the
last Stanford Rugby Foundation meeting. This should have been communicated
to all alum and supporters.

Like any good educator, Ted gave facts and the audience has to draw its
own conclusions and strategies.

Ted in response to Stanford Rugby Captain Dan Ross email concerned about
the dramatic drop in athletics abilities in our team, revealed that
Stanford accepts now only 165 athletes that are all "starters" in their
respective teams. As opposed to 285 a few years back. Coaches at Stanford
cannot recruit "walk ons" or "prospects" any longer. That means for us
that the pool of athletes available for rugby has vanished and also that
there is no room whatsoever for recruiting rugby players (like some alum
want to do).

We had realized that quickly and fortunately our "philosophy" of Stanford
Rugby that we put into place for 12 years now and that is not solely based
on "winning at all cost" has saved us.

What I mean by that, is that the players are really happy and the club is
a happy club. They would be happier if they could play Cal, that's for
sure, but there is no crisis with Stanford Rugby but for the one
fabricated by J Clark.

If we want to play Cal we will need a complete new approach that can be
initiated by the Athletics Department only.

As you all know if there is one person in the world that cares the most
about Stanford rugby, you know who it is.

This person tells you, that after 12 years of coaching at Stanford, the
only way to compete in first division steadily is for Stanford Rugby to be
a "junior" program of Stanford football. (Ted Leland is not open to this

All avenues have been explored for recruiting and all are very, very
limited if not nil.

So the best way now for Stanford Club to be a good one is to make sure the
players enjoy themselves
And I can ensure you that they do enjoy Stanford Rugby.

The building of a new stadium and club-house next year will certainly be a
huge boost for recruiting on campus, but only time will tell.

Finally I would like to tell every one that this team deserves and needs
your support, it is a very courageous team, they showed it all year long.
Courage is valuable only if you are clearheaded and making the decision of
not playing Cal is a clearheaded one. I support it because there is no
other way, ( I wish there was another one).


In response to April 4th posting:

Coach Boivert's initial email announcing the forfeit was widely
circulated by coach Boivert and found its way to the media without
involvement by the Cal rugby program. In fact, at our behest, the
Daily Caifornian sat on the story for a couple of days while Cal
coach Jack Clark worked to have the fixture restored.

The subsequent flurry of news on talk radio, television, local papers and
in national media outlets stemmed from the Daily Californian's story.
While it would be flattering to think that the Cal Rugby program has
influence with national media, the program has in fact done nothing
more than confirm the story when asked, and politely express

The media have indeed ridiculed the Stanford rugby program, and
typically have quoted Franck Boivert's own email in the process.
At the heart of this matter, it is generally perceived as bizarre 
for a rugby team to forfeit a match citing concerns about getting hurt.

And if coach Boivert is surprised by the extent of attention to and
the depth of emotion exposed by this story, then it seems he
seriously underestimated the place of the Cal-Stanford tradition in
the Bay Area.

It also seems important that some Stanford fans tar Cal with the
forfeiture brush. While it is correct that Cal will not play the
University of Victoria this year, it is for very different reasons
than those behind the Cal-Stanford debacle.

For Cal, fixtures against UVic are viewed as good preparation for the
national championships. However, this year, UVic have entered a new
Premiership competition in British Columbia.  Because of the
premiership schedule, UVic did not travel to Cal in February as has
been recent custom during their Spring Break (or 'Reading Week').
Similarly, U Vic had Premiership commitments during Cal's trip to
Canada this month and the prospect of playing anything less than
UVic's first side was unattractive to Cal. It is incorrect to say
that either UVic or Cal forfeited these games. Both fixtures were
cancelled purely as a result of scheduling issues.

It is also worth noting that Cal and UVic have been occasional
opponents since the mid-80s, which is a far cry from the the 100-year
Scrum Axe tradition or even the 75-year tradition between Cal and the
University of British Columbia.

Scott Compton
Media Relations
Cal Varsity Rugby


Parody of original email by JLP: "Armada"

-------- Original Message ---------
Subject: Armada
Date: Thu, 27 July 1588 17:04:28 -0800
From: Queen Elizabeth
To: King Philip

On 19 July 1588, the English Crown held a meeting with members of the Royal Navy, Parliament, and the Court. We discussed among other topics the forfeit of the upcoming naval battle with your Armada on 28 July. There was no unanimous decision by all participants. However, Her Majesty and the Lords of Admiralty agreed that the final decision rested with the sailors and officers of the Royal Navy, and that whatever the decision was they would support it.

The officers and men had another meeting the next day and again decided it was best to forfeit the battle. They asked me to be their spokesperson to the Spanish Crown, the English people, and the world press.

All of us in England are deeply disappointed not to be able to carry the traditional battle for supremacy of the high seas between our two nations.

The Navy honestly believes that it will be detrimental to the tradition to challenge Spain this year, as we would be unable to field a full battle fleet, let alone an Armada. Every year (even the years we successfully plundered your New World colonies and the year we raided Cadiz), we have had only a handful of seaworthy ships. This year was worse as many of our vessels have been damaged in storms and in battle actions, and the state of the Crown's finances, in particular the expense of maintaining our property in Normandy and Brittany, has precluded us from replacing these ships. The majority of our warships have, in fact, sailed all year in disrepair, and our sailors do not have the heart to face in battle an Armada which is vastly superior in size, strength, and armaments.

Taking to the Channel against Spain this year would make a mockery out of so called "Naval Battles." The English Navy has too much respect for the tradition and their predecessors from Spain and from England and Normandy to ridicule this tradition. When a feather weight is to fight a heavy weight, there is no rivalry, it is a farce, just as if an "Iron Maiden" or "The Rack" was to Inquisition against a tattered leather strap.

Spain and others have pointed out that the fear of losing should not be an excuse for surrender. England has no fear of losing versus Spain. They are, however, very afraid to get injured and indeed fear for their safety. The English sailors are all avocational fighters and the injury and scurvy toll they had to pay this year is just too much.

England also requests Europe to allow them to fight smaller countries next year, as our ships and men are much less impressive than even those of the Dutch.

So what about the future of the rivalry between Spain and England? I am afraid the two countries are going in two different directions. Spain has professionalised their military organization to a point of excellence similar to historic empires such as those of the Romans, of the Greeks, or of Alexander. England is still a country for gentlemen. England provides outstanding services to its sailors, but it will never be in the foreseeable future a Naval program that can engage in recruiting or training seamen for battle.

The question of the future of England-Spain naval battles still remains. Maybe some year England will have a Navy strong enough to challenge Spain, or may be one-day Naval Warfare will be again a pursuit for the gentle aristocracy.

We look forward to receiving your envoy and providing Your Majesty with suitable amounts of real property, gold, and women.

Queen Elizabeth