By Megan Rainsberger Reprint and Copyright Info
November 10, 2006, Bowling Green, Ind. – Only two years out from four straight sweet sixteen appearances and six months from a massive graduation that saw 17 players leave the 1st and 2nd XVs, the Bowling Green State University RFC has gone into stealth mode.
“The less people knew about out situation, the better,” stated BG coach Roger Mazzarella. “That gave us an opportunity to bring along a very young squad that featured several players moved up to 1st side status well before their time.”
In addition to the graduation losses, the Falcons also lost the services of longtime assistant coach Chris Hopps. The lineout specialist had to return to Columbus to be with his ailing father, Ohio rugby legend Middy Hopps.
In his place, BG added Tony Mazzarella to work with the backs and South African native Johann Ackermann to work with the forwards. “I wouldn’t say that we haven’t missed Chris, but Tony and Johann have done a nice job of filling the gap,” commented the elder Mazzarella.
The strategy, as well as the commitment and hard work by the players, has evidently worked. BG posted an undefeated season in their Michigan Collegiate League games by beating Michigan, Michigan State, Grand Valley, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Ferris State.
The Falcons also beat Big Ten member Illinois in Midwest Pool Play, but lost a heartbreaker to eventual Midwest Division I runner-up Purdue 35 – 37 in their second Pool Play match.
The loss to the Boilermakers moved BG into the Division II rounds of the Midwest championship where two weeks ago the Falcons edged a couple of tenacious squads in horrendous weather. BG defeated the University of Dayton 19 – 8 and Michigan State 22 – 0 in a match that was much closer than the score might indicate.
The victory has propelled the Falcons into the Division II finals this weekend against Wisconsin Stout while Ohio University takes on Northern Iowa in the other bracket.
“I know a couple of guys on the team saw getting moved down to DII as a demotion, but I disagree,” state Mazzarella. “We are in for some hard core rugby this weekend. Anyone that thinks we are a shoe-in to win because we are supposedly the big bad former D I club, is in for a rude awakening. I see four teams that are equal in ability and every match a nail biter to the last whistle.”
The Midwest DII playoffs are being held at the Moose Lodge Rugby Facility in Elkhart, Indiana this weekend. BG takes on Stout at noon and Ohio University plays Northern Iowa at 2pm on Saturday with losers kicking off at 11am and winners playing at 1pm on Sunday.
Want to comment on this or another
story or issues? Email us here (all letters sent to this email address are
Copyright 2006 Alex Goff, Goff on Rugby, Elden & Goff
Web hosting and support services by Digital Graphics Studios