Photo via Cal Rugby

The California Golden Bears have dominated the college rugby scene for decades. They’ve brought 27 of the past 37 national 15s titles back to Berkeley, including this year’s crown. However, the team’s dominant 43-13 victory over Arkansas State was undercut by a tragic injury suffered by sophomore Robert Paylor in the opening minutes.

Paylor sustained a severe spinal injury in a collision, and had to be stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital for surgery. Neither Cal nor Paylor’s family disclosed his specific diagnosis, but they announced in a statement earlier this week that his lower body was paralyzed, although he had “limited motion” in his arms.

Paylor is a sophomore from outside Sacramento and he played lock for the Bears. His family set up a GoFundMe page to defray the heavy medical expenses he faces, and it’s raised just over $300,000 as of publication. The rugby team announced that they will host a prayer event for Paylor tomorrow evening in Berkeley, and longtime coach Jack Clark said that Cal rugby would support him over the long term.

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Our team is devastated by Rob’s injury. There aren’t words to adequately explain our sorrow for what he and his family are going through. Rob is an extraordinary teammate, friend and student-athlete. As a University-recognized Scholar Athlete, he represents everything that is right and true about collegiate athletics. His challenges will be severe, long in duration and difficult beyond measure. Our team intends to be there with him every bit of the way.