St. Bonaventure defeated Lindenwood Belleville, 17-14, Sunday afternoon to win the Heart of America Classic in Kansas City, Kansas, qualifying the Bonnies for the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship later this spring.
The crown jewel of American collegiate rugby, the Penn Mutual showcases the 24 best D-1A programs in the nation competing in seven-man rugby. The tournament is scheduled for May 31-June 2 at Talen Energy Stadium in suburban Philadelphia.
The 2019 Penn Mutual CRC marks the ninth consecutive year the event has been held in Philadelphia, bringing national and international attention to the growing popularity of American rugby through broadcasts on the networks of ESPN.
“We have a few days off this week then back into training,” said Tui Osborne, head coach. “The addition of the tournament in June to our schedule will be the most important fixture of the spring.”
The Bonnies split their two games in pool play on Saturday, shutting out New Mexico, 31-0, and losing to Minnesota, 17-14, but they advanced to Sunday’s quarterfinals on point differential.
The Bonnies beat Wisconsin-Whitewater, 20-12, Sunday morning and defeated Arkansas, 28-17, in the semifinals to reach the title match with Lindenwood Belleville.
Chris Starkweather had four tries, Alex Chura had three and Eamonn Matthews and Anton Lupari each scored twice during the tourney. Chris Bortuzzo added eight conversions.
“We knew coming in to this that it wouldn’t be easy and losing in pool play was probably the turning point in our campaign,” said Osborne. “Watching the progression of play in the final day was most rewarding. Our staff as whole is proud of these young athletes for their collaborative efforts shown on the weekend.”
The Bonnies finished the fall 15s season ranked 12th in the nation in Division 1A.
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