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Bonnies heading to Houston with eyes on second national rugby title in three years

Dec 06, 2023

Been there, done that.
Just two years removed from a national championship on the same field in Houston, St. Bonaventure men’s rugby Coach Tui Osborne doesn’t expect his club to be intimidated one bit when his Bonnies (6-3) square off with Notre Dame College (8-1-1) for the National Collegiate Rugby Division I title Saturday at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. CST) at SaberCats Stadium.
“Right from the preseason on, we have conversations about getting to this game,” Osborne said. “This is the standard for our program now, both the men and the women. Winning will be a bonus, but getting here is our primary goal from day one.”
The game will be livestreamed on The Rugby Network. A campus watch party at the Rathskeller will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The match is a feather in the scrum cap for Rugby East; the Bonnies and Notre Dame are league members. The Falcons defeated St. Bonaventure, 28-19, in a back-and-forth game Nov. 4 in Cleveland.
“We just need to do a better job (this time) of completing the opportunities we create and being more successful in our set pieces, and to continue our defensive effort like we have all year,” Osborne said.
In the national semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Penn State-Berks, the Bonnies, ranked No. 3 in the latest NCR poll, pulled out a heart-stopping 15-13 win over No. 1 Brown on a penalty kick by freshman Noah Edwards on the last play of the match. No. 2 Notre Dame defeated Indiana, 26-13, in the other semifinal. 
In such a physically demanding sport, the most important aspect of preparing for a game this late in the season is health, Osborne said.
“Kudos to Brown. They are a really tough team and made us earn that win. Our bodies are definitely feeling it,” Osborne said. “Recovery is our focus, having the guys work with the trainers this week and just managing our bodies to be in the best shape possible for the game.”
St. Bonaventure defeated Penn State, 19-18, to win the 2021 Fall 15s national title. The St. Bonaventure women won the 2023 NCR small-college national title Sunday, Dec. 3, in Houston, defeating Wisconsin-Platteville, 22-17.
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).