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By Michael Vitron, ’12, ’13
While St. Bonaventure’s men’s and women’s rugby teams may look different on the pitch this fall, both clubs hope their records look pretty much the same.
Both teams – defending champs in their respective New York state leagues -- have dropped their previous nicknames and their black, gold and white uniforms for a more traditional university scheme. The men and women will sport primarily brown uniforms and be called the Bonnies.
“There is so much pride in St. Bonaventure, and these teams have represented the school so well over the years,” said Rob DeFazio, director of the Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership. “It only makes sense that we are working for a common goal under one name.”
The men’s side has been affectionately (or not so affectionately, to opponents) known as the Outlaws for much of its 35-year history.
Men’s coach Clarence Picard said that while his team values the history associated with the Outlaws name and contributions from rugby alumni, they are happy to become the Bonnies.
“We are very excited to be taking another step towards full recognition from the university,” he said. “It’s a big step.”
The women received their new uniforms that said “Bonnies” on them last season, although many fans had a tough time dropping Legends when referring to them.
“We are extremely proud to be representing our school as the Bonnies,” Nichole Dylag, president of the women’s rugby team, said. “We find it exciting and are very happy to be given this honor. Being able to be call ourselves the Bonnies creates even more of a sense of belonging than we had previously.”
Both teams look to build on successful 2011-12 seasons that saw the men win the Empire Rugby Conference West Division, and the women reach the final four of theNational Small College Rugby Organization Division III tournament.
The men open up their season with a trip to the University at Buffalo on Friday. The 8:45 p.m. match will be played under the lights at Kunz Stadium. The teams split their two matches last season.
Picard believes opening with UB is a good test for the Bonnies, as both teams compete annually for Western New York supremacy.
“UB is one of our big rivals,” he said. “They have won, I think, seven of the last 15 Division I Championships in New York state. They are obviously a team that you always have to have circled on your calendar.”
The women, who have made the jump from Division III to Division II, travel to Syracuse for a 1 p.m. match with the Orange on Saturday, Sept. 15.
“Moving up a division will bring us a new challenge,” Dylag said. “We were the best in Division III within New York state last year so I think it’s fitting to continue on and face new and more challenging competition. We still have a large amount of drive fueled by our success from last year. We plan to continue our success by using that motivation.”
For more information on the men’s rugby team, visit www.sburugby.com.
The complete women’s schedule can be found at http://www.empiregurugby.com/league/54561/upstate_div2 . (A new women’s rugby website is being developed.)
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them
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