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SBU women and men headed to national rugby semifinal rounds this weekend

Nov 29, 2023

For the first time in the same fall season, St. Bonaventure will have two teams in the national rugby spotlight.

The undefeated SBU women (9-0), ranked No. 2 in the National Collegiate Rugby small-college poll, square off with defending national champion and top-ranked Endicott (8-0) at 11 a.m. EST (10 a.m. CST) Saturday in a semifinal match of the 2023 Fall 15s Collegiate Rugby Championship at Houston, Texas.

The St. Bonaventure men (5-3), ranked No. 3 in the latest NCR Division I poll, play defending national champion and top-ranked Brown (10-0) at 1 p.m. EST Saturday in the final four of the 2023 Fall 15s Collegiate Rugby Championship at Penn State-Berks in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Both games are scheduled to be streamed on The Rugby Network.

For the men, the game is an opportunity to avenge last December’s 14-9 loss to Brown in the national semifinals. The Bonnies edged Penn State, 19-18, to win the national D-I title in 2021.

“We graduated some really good, really experienced players, but we were also four men down (due to injuries) going into last year’s game,” said Tui Osborne, head coach of the Bonnies, who are much healthier heading into this year’s game.

“But that game really taught us a lot regarding what we needed to fix before we play them again. The guys are excited to get another shot at them. They want the challenge and they’re ready.”

The SBU-Brown winner will play the Notre Dame College-Indiana winner on Dec. 9 in Houston for the national title.

For the women, this is the first time they’ve reached the national final four since 2011, a remarkable accomplishment considering Coach Meredith Pyke only had nine players on the roster when she was hired in 2022.

“It’s amazing how much she’s done so quickly,” Osborne said. “Recruiting was the biggest challenge and she did a great job recruiting campus at first and retaining the players that she did have during the transition.”

Pyke realizes her players, most of them on the national stage for the first time, might be a little wide-eyed when they walk into a professional rugby facility in Houston this weekend.

“I was at nationals in 2009 (as a player) and couldn’t tell you the final score, except that we lost,” Pyke said. “But I have so many fond memories from that trip and I want them to make sure they’re enjoying every moment of the experience. Getting to this stage is just part of the development and growth of the program.”

That doesn’t mean the Bonnies are just happy to be there.

“Endicott is a great team so it’s going to be a tough game. But my message to our team hasn’t changed,” Pyke said. “Let’s not worry about what other people are doing. Let’s worry about what we do. If we can just play our game and stick to the stuff that’s been working for us, we’ll be fine.”

The winner will play the winner of Wisconsin-Platteville and SUNY-Cortland at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST) on Sunday. The losers will play a third-place game at 11:30 a.m. EST Sunday.


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. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).