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Bonnies square off with Brown Saturday with trip to rugby national title game on the line

Nov 30, 2022

If Brown goes down, the Bonnies are headed back to Houston.

St. Bonaventure can return to the scene of their 2021 national title by defeating the unbeaten Liberty Conference champions Saturday in the semifinals of the National Collegiate Rugby D-1 tournament at Penn State-Berks. The game, originally scheduled for 6 p.m., now kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on the NCR YouTube page.

The Bonnies (7-2) won at Indiana, 29-24, and Brown defeated Wheeling, 27-7, in the quarterfinals Nov. 19 to advance to the final four. Thomas More plays Queens University in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m.

The winners move on to the national championship game Dec. 10 at AVEVA Stadium in Houston, where the Bonnies edged Penn State, 19-18, for the title last December.

For the Bonnies, the Thanksgiving break couldn’t have come at a better time. The physical and mental toll of balancing academics and athletics for four months in a sport as grueling as rugby can be a challenge.

“Just to get off our legs and spend some quality time with family and switch it off for a few days was great,” said Coach Tui Osborne. “It’s go, go, go all the time so the guys, and our staff, really appreciated the time off. Now we’re back at it and eager to get back on the pitch.”

Brown’s closest match all year was a 19-point win over American International in the Liberty title game Nov. 5.

“They have some very skilled players, especially their No. 10 (fly half),” Osborne said. “They run a good set piece that we need to disrupt and they play very good defense.”

The loss of junior prop Ethan Doumbe to a season-ending injury earlier in the year took some time to adapt to, but Osborne is pleased with the way others have stepped up.

“Losing Ethan was detrimental to our scrums, but it allowed some other guys to step up and deliver to show us what they’ve got,” Osborne said.

Osborne said the Bonnies need to avoid the mistakes that nearly cost them the game at Indiana.

“We need to be more disciplined. Our penalty count (vs. Indiana) was probably the highest we’ve had this year,” he said. “We really need to be more careful with that in this match and not let it become a theme. We need to button that up.”

Brown advanced to the NCR semifinals this year after being eliminated in the quarterfinals last season.

“Our target this season was one game more than last year (and) we achieved that,” said Brown Coach David Laflamme. “We know (the) Bonnies will be a challenge. We’re prepared to do what we can to play our game.”


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.