SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento Lions star Garrett Hawley will be helping to lead the Lions this weekend in the Pacific Coast 7s Championship Tournament this Saturday, July 21, at Treasure Island, and will get the chance to go heads up with younger brother and USA Rugby Star Colin Hawley, who will be representing Olympic Club out of San Francisco.
In one of the most competitive 7s qualifier tournaments of the summer, both Hawley brothers will be leaving everything on the field in hopes of helping their respective teams earn one of only two tournament seeds that are reserved for the top two teams out of the Pacific Coast Rugby Football Union for the USA 7s National Championship Tournament.
Anyone who is familiar with American rugby would undoubtedly recognize the name “Hawley” when it is spoken around the pitch. The talented brothers’ late father, Loren Hawley, is an American rugby legend who was known as the “King of the Lineouts” during his tenure at University of California - Berkeley, where he played football and rugby from 1961-1965. Loren Hawley, who passed away in 2008, is widely considered to be one of the best American-born rugby players ever to play the game, and was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Without question, Loren Hawley’s two sons have certainly carried forward his athletic legacy. Colin was an All-American at Cal and has become a regular for the USA Eagles in both 15s and 7s before earning himself a professional contract with the USA 7s team. Garrett (who took up rugby at a later age than Colin) has played for almost every competitive club in California (OMBAC, Olympic, SFGG, and Sacramento Lions) and has also represented the Pacific Coast Grizzly 7s All-Star team.
Unlike their pops, who was a lock forward, both Hawley brothers play in the backline. Both have the ability to play almost anywhere in the backs and can control their position with serious speed and exceptional ball handling skills. While Colin is a more powerful runner, Garrett boasts a nifty side step that can leave potential defenders grabbing at the air.
The first and last time the brothers met on the rugby field was in 2006. Colin was a college freshman playing for Cal and Garrett was playing for San Francisco Golden Gate’s U-23 side. Playing opposite each other at the outside-center position, some might say Colin had the upper hand in that game as he scored a total of 5 tries. Garrett had an opportunity to get the final word for SFGG when he grubber-kicked the ball downfield landing it in the try zone. Colin outsprinted Garrett and kicked the ball out of play to end the game. Their father was in attendance that day and summed up the wonderful experience stating, “I’ve lived a blessed life.” The Cal Bears beat SFGG that day 45-12.
“It was a particularly special day, since our father was able to be present and see both Hawley boys battle it out in a game he came to love so much during his life,” said Colin. “Garrett had a pretty good chance at scoring himself, but unfortunately for him, I kicked it out of bounds. I’ll be ever more diligent this weekend on keeping him out of the try zone!”
“It was a great match and it was the last chance pops got to see us play together,” added Garrett. “I know he will be watching us this weekend from the best seat in the house up above. And you better believe he won’t see Colin score another 5 tries!”
This weekend will definitely provide the Hawley brothers with another opportunity to go to battle on the pitch, however, much more is at stake this time with a shot at Nationals on the line. Both have come a long way since 2006 and it is certainly all up in the air this Saturday.
Olympic Club is led by Colin Hawley and claims a talented line-up of All-American ruggers. Garrett is part of a powerful Lions squad with some young talent and intimidating islander flair. The Lions defeated Olympic Club earlier this summer in the Nesquik 7s, 22-12. Olympic Club, however, still made it to the final against SFGG who had knocked the Lions out in the semis. Garrett missed the game due to work commitments but Colin played and scored one of two tries for O-Club against the Lions. Both brothers commented on how exciting this weekend should be.
“The Sacramento Lions have come a long way and, in my opinion, are one of the main contenders this weekend,” said Colin. “It will be a great showing of the Pac Coast Region’s rugby playing ability and I would encourage friends and family to attend.”
“It is going to be a really tough tournament,” added Garrett. “With only the top two teams moving forward, we know every team there is going to bring it. You’ve got O-Club, Golden Gate, Puget Sound, I mean these are all incredible teams, and anything can happen. It’s going to come down to whoever wants it the most.”
When asked what is most exciting about getting to play against his little brother, Garret responded with a smile, “Obviously Colin is one of the best players in the country, but he is still my little brother and I know all his tricks. I can’t wait to go up against him this weekend and make him remember who taught him everything he knows!”
When asked if he had any advice for Garrett, Colin advised: “For Garrett in particular, I would say all the best but make sure he wears a mouth piece because I am looking to rattle his teeth!”
The Hawley brothers are very positive and bring a friendly sense of competition when describing their sibling rivalry. Obviously anyone with a brother knows how competitive it can be especially when playing sports. And rest assured, both Hawley brothers know more than anyone that it is all business when they step on the field.
“We have worked hard this summer,” commented Garrett on the progress of the Sacramento Lions. “We have set our goals and we are going to give it our all to achieve them.”
Regardless of their very capable lineups, the Sacramento Lions and Olympic Club are still considered to be underdogs coming into this tournament. Old Puget Sound Beach and San Francisco Golden Gate have been playing well this summer and are the headliners coming into this weekend. And don’t count out East Palo Alto or the Gaels either. All the teams in the tournament can do some serious damage when playing at their best.
“The level of competition is high, higher than I would have expected,” stated Colin as he compared domestic rugby to international competition. “I was not sure what it would be like to play domestically, but after the first tournament, it is apparent that there are quality teams and players at the domestic level.”
The Pacific Coast Qualifier should prove to be an incredible tournament for all the teams involved and whoever comes out on top will likely be a favorite at nationals. There will be plenty of talent to keep fans at the edge of their seats, but the Hawley brothers, in particular, should turn some heads this weekend as they prepare to go toe to toe and carry on the legacy that began with their father.