The Best 5C Sports Team You've Never Heard of?
In early April, even playing in the National Championship was not an option for the Claremont Foxes Rugby team, but somehow, by the end of the month, they were champions. It all began a month prior with a brutal match against San Diego State where seemingly everything went wrong. The Foxes walked away with their first loss of the season, and with that, any possibility of advancing to the regional or national tournament. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the regional tournament would only take the #1 seed from the DII Pacific Desert Rugby League, which San Diego State had won that night.
The Foxes quickly accepted their loss and completely shifted their focus toward their Rugby 7s season. They were chosen to showcase their talents in the D1 pool at the College Rugby 7s Championship in New Orleans after UCLA had nominated the Foxes to go in their place. In a rapid change of events, just a week from the date of the National Championship game, Coach Evan Wollen received a call. One of the teams nominated for the Final 4 could not make it, and the Foxes were given the open bid. With just a few days and only a couple practices to prepare, the Fox leadership team worked to book flights for players and coaches, while the team had less than a week to reorient themselves back to 15s rugby. Suddenly, the Foxes had another shot at the National Championship in Houston.
Despite being colleges that officially compete at the Division III level, the Claremont Foxes have a history of being successful on the pitch, consistently winning against bigger schools like USC, UCSB, and UCLA. In Houston, the Foxes had something to prove. They played their first match against the Tribe from William and Mary University. An immense team effort led to a dominant win of 55-15, reminding themselves and everyone watching why they belonged in the National Championship finals. Injust 24 hours, the Foxes would be meeting their newly formed rivals San Diego State to compete for it all.
On April 30th, the Aveva Stadium was set for a revenge match like no other. Houston was hot and humid, and all the players on the pitch were tired from their match the day before; but regardless, the Foxes were hungry for a win. Hungry to prove to themselves and their teammates that they could do it, hungry for revenge. The first half was a slow battle until, with only 3 minutes left to spare, Senior Lock Eden Mahdavi (SCR ’22) punched through the line and scored. The Foxes had the momentum, and they continued their dominant performance in the second half. Leaving blood, sweat, and tears on the pitch, the Foxes secured the 2022 Division II 15s Spring National Championship against San Diego State with a score of 22-7. Madz Masser-Frye (HMC ’23), Caroline Bullock (CMC ’24), and MVP of the Match Robyn Collins (SCR ’23) each contributed a try.
The Foxes have become Claremont Colleges' own little David and Goliath story. The summer after they won, they traveled to New Orleans for a 7s tournament and notably beat Michigan, Clemson, and Iowa.
Nearly a year after winning the Championship, on Tuesday, April 11th, The Claremont Foxes were officially recognized by the Mayor of Claremont and the City Council for their outstanding achievement. With representatives from each of the 5Cs in attendance, notably President Chodosh of Claremont McKenna College and President Starr of Pomona College, the Foxes received an official certificate that will be on display alongside their National Championship trophy at Pomona College’s Center for Athletics, Recreation and Wellness.
Looking at the 2023 season, the Foxes have been crowned the League Champions, and will be heading to Stanford to compete in the West Spring Regionals tournament on April 21st and 22nd.
“We look forward to continuing to represent the City of Claremont and the Claremont Colleges in the upcoming weeks at Stanford and then hopefully in May in Houston and on the National stage vying for another National Championship,” current co-captain Caroline Bullock said in the City Hall meeting. If the Foxes win both their games at Stanford, they will travel to Houston to compete once again in the National Championship.
The Claremont Foxes is a Club Rugby team composed of students from all five Claremont Colleges. The majority of its players had no prior experience with the sport, and they pride themselves on their diversity and inclusivity, inviting anyone who wants to join the team. The Foxes are lucky to have a phenomenal all-volunteer coaching staff who are instrumental to their continued success. The secret to the Foxes' success? It can be attributed to the incredible work of the leadership team and their coaches, the support they receive from our schools’ administration, and the amazing people at CMS and PP Recreation. It is undeniable that the Claremont Foxes have created an incredible community of strong athletes, dedicated to the game and each other, creating lifelong memories along the way.