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Clarence Picard and Andrew Tui Osborne have been named full-time coaches of men’s and women’s rugby at St. Bonaventure University, elevating the stature of the programs to take advantage of the burgeoning popularity of the sport in the United States.
Osborne, who won two national titles as coach of Life University, has worked since November as an assistant to Picard, the longtime coach of SBU’s men’s program and director of the Annual Fund at the university. Picard will continue to serve as Annual Fund director until a replacement is named.
They will share responsibilities for coaching both the men and women, with assistance from Dr. Giles Bootheway, who coached the women last season. The men play both 15-man rugby in the fall and seven-man in the spring; the women play 15s in the fall.
The men will continue to play in Rugby East, which is in Division 1A of USA Rugby, the highest level in the nation. The women will compete again in NSCRO, the National Small College Rugby Organization, with the possibility of eventually moving to a higher level of competition.
Increasing university enrollment was the primary reason for upgrading the program.
“Clarence has done a tremendous job of building a nationally respected program, especially considering the great work he was also doing in Advancement,” said Rick Trietley, vice president for Student Affairs. “The addition of Tui last fall really gave us a unique opportunity to elevate both programs, and with their ability now as full-time coaches to spend more time on recruiting, we’re confident we can significantly grow both rosters.”
The coaches’ salaries and program expenses are being partially funded by donations from rugby alumni.
“I can’t say enough about the support we’ve always received from our alumni and their willingness to improve our program,” said Picard, who’s coached the Bonnies since 2006 and led their rise to Division 1A status in 2014. “We have every intention to make them and the university proud and take these programs to new heights.”
To improve retention, academic support to the men will be offered through structured study halls with oversight from coaches and team leaders. All freshmen and returning students with a GPA under a 3.0 will be on the early-alert survey.
As part of the enhanced recognition, men’s rugby will be listed on GoBonnies.com. (Rugby is not an NCAA sport, but overseen by USA Rugby.)
However, the rugby teams will continue to report to Rob DeFazio, director of the Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership, the office that will offer administrative support to the programs.
The Bonnies men won five state rugby titles in 15s while a member of the Division II New York State Rugby Conference (1993, 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2008); reached the national 1AA quarterfinals in 15s in spring 2013; and finished the 2016 spring sevens season ranked 10th in the nation in Division 1A on the strength of four tournament victories.
The women reached the final four of the NSCRO national tournament in 2011, and won the state title in 2014, finishing the season ranked 5th in the nation.
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