A sixth-generation Californian and three-sport standout in football, basketball and track & field at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Jack Clark was an All-American tackle at Orange Coast Junior College before accepting a football scholarship at the University of California, where he starred in football and rugby for the Golden Bears. Clark was a lock on the U.S. National Team before embarking on a coaching career that has included more victories than any other head coach in the history of the USA Eagles in addition to 23 national collegiate championships since becoming the head coach at Cal in 1984.
Clark, who as of the end of summer 2014 has led the Bears to 22 national collegiate titles in 15s and two collegiate 7s titles, has produced 126 All-Americans, 36 players who have played for the U.S. National Team, five players who have earned 10 Varsity Blues competing for Oxford University against Cambridge as graduate students and three who have received residency contracts from the U.S. Olympic Committee. He exited the 2014 summer season with an all-time collegiate coaching record, all with Cal, of 577-74-5 (.879) in 15s and 65-13 (.833) in 7s.
Clark joined the Cal coaching staff in 1982 as an assistant to Ned Anderson and became the program’s sixth head coach in team history in 1984. Since that time, Clark’s Cal teams have achieved a 9-3 record against Brigham Young University, including five national collegiate championships vs. BYU since 2006; an impressive combined record of 34-1 against rugby powerhouses Army, Navy and Air Force in the 15-a-side game; and won 14 of the last 18 “World Cup” series, including eight of past 10, vs. University of British Columbia. The Bears under Clark went on a domestic winning streak of 98 games from 1990-96 and a 70-game tear that lasted until 2003. Cal then put together a winning streak over U.S. collegiate competition that lasted 115 matches between April 2004 and May 2009 and followed that with a streak in 15s of 63 straight matches that ran from opening day in 2010 through Feb. 18, 2012.
After his football and rugby career at Cal was followed in 1978 by a professional contract with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, Clark continued his rugby playing career with post-collegiate campaigns for the senior club national champion Old Blues RFC and the U.S. National Team, earning Most Valuable Player honors at the 1979 U.S. National Team Trials and Territorial Championships. Clark’s play as a U.S. international earned him a starting spot as a lock on the World Overseas XV team that played the Welsh National Team during its centennial celebration in Cardiff in 1980. An off-the-field injury ended Clark’s athletic career and he joined the Cal coaching staff two years later.
Clark is recognized as the founder of the U.S. Collegiate All-American Team, which he coached from 1987-92 and managed from 2001-03. He was also head coach of the U.S. National Team from 1993-99, during which time the United States won 16 international test matches, the most victories ever by a U.S. national team coach.
As the General Manager of the national team while head coach and continuing in that role until 2003, Clark oversaw all aspects of USA Rugby’s flagship program. Throughout his entire tenure as GM he also handled the dual role of Business Development Director, successfully originating landmark broadcasting and sponsorship agreements which established the national team as a self-sufficient entity that contributed significantly to the national governing body, USA Rugby. Clark represented the U.S. in the founding of both the Pacific Rim Championships in 1996 and Super Power Cup in 2003, and successfully negotiated many incoming and outgoing international tours.
In a singular honor, Clark delivered the keynote address at the International Rugby Board’s Conference on the Game 1998. In 2000, he was chosen one of Cal’s Ten Most Influential Sports Figures of the 20th Century, joining legendary Cal Hall of Fame coaches Carrol “Ky” Ebright, Brutus Hamilton, Pete Newell and Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf on the honor roll. Clark was also the recipient in 2001 of the Craig Sweeney Award, which is bestowed to former U.S. internationals for their “significant contribution to the game.
An unprecedented series of events in 2002 saw Clark courted by the iconic English professional rugby club Bath to become its head coach and Director of Rugby. The Daily Telegraph and Western Daily Mail reported that “an offer was on the table,” followed by a report on erugbynews.com that quoted Bath general manager Bob Calleja stating, “Jack Clark is an impressive candidate for the director of rugby post and arguably, given his background, he may be a better prospect as a chief executive.” Clark ultimately declined Bath’s offer and recommitted to his University and American rugby.
“We are extremely happy and relieved to learn of Jack’s decision,” said Cal’s then-Director of Athletics Steve Gladstone in an April 2002 statement. “One of our highest priorities for Cal Athletics is to attract and retain the best coaches in the country, and Jack Clark certainly is a prime example.”
Two years earlier, another former Director of Athletics at Cal, John Kasser, was quoted in a campus article titled “Master Craftsman,” saying, “Jack Clark could coach any Cal team to a national championship, he just happens to coach rugby.”
Clark was centrally involved in rallying the Cal faithful to fund the construction of Witter Rugby Field and the Doc Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse in Strawberry Canyon. Most importantly, he has been instrumental in largely endowing the sport of rugby on campus at the University.
In addition to his national-team and Cal coaching, Clark has also served as head coach of the All-Marine rugby team, which he led to the silver medal in 2006 at the Armed Forces Rugby Championship at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
With his entry into the U.S Rugby Hall of Fame, Clark joins former Golden Bears coach Miles “Doc” Hudson, who led the program from 1938-74; Pat Vincent, the New Zealand All Black who played for the Blue and Gold in 1957; Colby “Babe” Slater, a two-time Olympic gold medalist; and seven other Cal players – Charles Tilden, James Winston, Matt Hazeltine, George Fish, Charles Meehan, George Dixon and Ed Graff – whose 1920 and 1924 USA Olympic gold-medal teams were previously inducted.