Connecting with a college team’s current players can be a great way to get a feel for a program, so we interviewed Golden Bears Matthew Coyle and Christian Dyer to learn more about what life is like at Cal.
Take It From Us: Q&A with Current Cal Players
Rugger’s Edge: So, let’s start back in high school – Tell us a little about your recruitment process.
Matthew: Going into my junior and senior years of high school, I attended Cal’s summer rugby camp with the hopes of being recruited. A few months after the camp, I went back to meet the coaches and tour the campus. When it became clear it was a good match, the coaches encouraged me to take some time to reflect before getting back to them, but I was certain and called back immediately after my visit.
Christian: My recruitment process in high school stemmed from Cal’s summer rugby camp, which I attended three times as a rising sophomore, junior and senior. The summer before my senior year, I began corresponding with the coaching staff. A few weeks later, I had a meeting with the coaches and my family on campus, where I took a tour, met with an academic counselor and discussed my future. The focus for the staff, my family and me was to determine whether the University of California would be a good match. I put concerted effort into the application. Once the application was submitted, the last step was to wait for the university’s acceptance letter.
Rugger’s Edge: Now that you’re here, what does the school week usually look like for you?
Matthew: A typical day begins at 8:30 a.m. with the start of practice. Players usually get up to Witter Rugby Field early to begin warming up and working on skills prior to practice. On-field training usually runs until 10 a.m. and is followed by strength-and-conditioning maintenance sessions a couple days a week at the high-performance center. After practice, I attend my classes for the day. It is great to have my rugby finished early and have all day for classes and study. All day I am fueling my body with healthy foods and at the end of the day, I’m always ready for a good night’s rest.
Christian: My schedule varies, depending on the semester. During the spring season, starting in January, we train six days a week with Mondays off, making my schedule hectic at times. A typical week consists of daily training, academic classes and extensive hours studying or writing papers. In the fall, my weeks are less rigorous, since we practice three times a week and have fewer competitions. In either case, it is challenging to manage athletics, academics and a campus life.
Rugger’s Edge: How about weekends?
James: Matches are on Saturday and film and regeneration on Sunday. After morning training sessions, I go to class and have time to do other things. On match days that we host, it’s an all-day affair, as we set up and break down the field. After film and regeneration on Sundays, I crack down on my studies.
Christian: Similar to my weekday schedule, my weekends vary depending on the semester. In the fall, I usually get to enjoy myself and catch the football games if we don’t have a 7s tournament. Come springtime, though, we typically have a competition every Saturday, followed every Sunday by medical check, regen, film, meetings and technical study.
Rugger’s Edge: Clearly, Cal is known for its academic rigor. How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?
Matthew: At certain times over the course of the year, it has been extremely difficult to balance both school and rugby. However, Cal has given me the support network to make it possible to excel in the classroom and in my sport. On the rugby team, it is mandatory to meet regularly with our academic advisor. We are also able to sign up with tutors in each of our classes to help us with our studies. One step that has helped me personally is taking the time to meet individually with my professors during their office hours. Putting in that extra effort has made a big difference.
Christian: Prior to stepping foot on campus, I was a bit apprehensive about how academics and rugby would coexist. But once I got into a groove, I realized that it’s all about finding a balance and creating a schedule that supports it. Attending class, studying daily and taking time to enjoy myself are three things that help me find this balance. The Athletic Study Center, its counselors and tutors are important resources. As student-athletes, we also have priority enrollment for classes, which makes a big difference. Above all, we have a team policy that requires us to miss as little class time as possible in the course of our rugby travel schedules. Ultimately, if I am not in good academic standing, I’m not allowed to participate in rugby.
Rugger’s Edge: Do you ever have time to do anything else besides rugby?
Matthew: Though rugby takes up a great deal of time outside of school, there still is enough time to get involved with other activities both on and off campus. Many athletes are involved with GBAC, a student athlete leadership program, as well as several other clubs around campus. Some of my teammates also work jobs outside of school and rugby.
Christian: Yes, I do. Although rugby at Cal is very demanding, I have plenty of time to enjoy all that the university has to offer.
Rugger’s Edge: What is your favorite part about going to school at Cal?
Christian: Beyond the opportunity to pursue my rugby dreams and aspirations in an amazing program, my favorite parts of Cal are its location and all the connections available to be made in the campus community.
Rugger’s Edge: What advice do you have for high school players who are interested in Cal?
Matthew: I would advise them to attend the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp and to practice their skills before the camp begins. All of the reps and touches of the ball will help when it is time to showcase talent. Watching professional or big-time collegiate games can also help mature a player’s game.
Christian: I recommend attending the Cal summer rugby camp. It’s a great way to showcase your skills in front of the coaches and it will give you the best chance of being recruited.
September 8, 2017; Berkeley, California, USA; Rugby: California Golden Bears; Matthew Coyle Photo credit: Kelley L Cox- KLC fotos
Senior Matthew Coyle stands 6-0, 187 pounds and plays flyhalf/center. The solid playmaker and strong placekicker attended Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California, where he played varsity football and rugby while maintaining better than a 4.0 GPA. The Tournament MVP of the 2017 West Coast 7s at Cal Poly, where he notched 3 tries and seven conversions. Matthew is a Scholar Athlete majoring in Political Economy.
September 8, 2017; Berkeley, California, USA; Rugby: California Golden Bears; Christian Dyer Photo credit: Kelley L Cox- KLC fotos
Sophomore Christian Dyer is 6-2, 210-pound center from Sacramento, where he was an Honor Student and played rugby for Jesuit High School, starting as a junior and captaining the team as a senior. Dyer, who attended the Cal Varsity Rugby Camp for three summers, has not yet declared an academic major. At Cal he was a member of 2017 CRC national champions and 2016 PAC 7s conference champions as freshman.