BGSU Rugby Club to play in National Collegiate Sevens TournamentWritten by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | email@example.com
If games go according to form and Lady Luck smiles on them just a little, the BGSU Rugby Club will be on the receiving end of some unprecedented media coverage when it travels to Columbus for the National Collegiate Sevens Tournament.
This three-day scrum’n’run fest (June 4 through 6) featuring 16 top-ranked college teams will, for the first time, be extensively covered on NBC Universal Sports and network TV. And should Bowling Green reach the tournament’s quarter finals, by winning two of its first three matches against Penn State, Utah and Ohio State, Falcon rugby will be seen on NBC on June 6 (see local cable and network TV listings).
Seven-a-side rugby or “sevens,” is a high-speed, high-scoring derivative of the better-known 15-a-side game. Teams are made up of three forwards and four backs (versus eight forwards and seven backs in the traditional game) and play two, seven-minute halves using the full-size 110 by 75 yard pitch, resulting in a crowd-pleasing combo of fast and furious action, finesse and endurance.
Regardless of what happens in Columbus, the BGSU Rugby Club will still be the most successful team in Bowling Green sporting history, compiling a record of 1,891-377-85 and a .833 winning percentage during 42 years.
BGSU has also won 29 consecutive MAC titles and is currently ranked 14 out of the 400 U.S. collegiate teams.
Universally credited with the growth and enormous success of rugby football at BGSU is former junior high school science teacher Roger Mazzarella, who has been with the club since its inception in 1967, first as a player and then for 20 years as its head coach.
Recently handing off coaching duties to his son Tony, he remains heavily involved in the sport, helping with organization, promotion and recruiting. Tony Mazzarella, meanwhile, continues BGSU’s winning tradition with a two-year record of 121-8-2.
A club sport that receives minimal financial support from the university, the club still manages to turn out three men’s and two women’s teams during the regular season, which runs from September through November. It also competes in several additional tournaments throughout the year at home and abroad.
Rugby football — or “rugger,” as it’s more commonly called — traces its origins to a game at Rugby School in England in 1823.
Rugby has managed to resist much of the overt self-congratulation and taunting prevalent in other sports. In fact, winning teams still applaud their opponents at the end of a match and both sides join in the traditional (and sometimes legendary) postgame parties which celebrate both their love of the game and the camaraderie of all who play it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Roger Holliday played rugby in England and Germany for 15 years and helped start the BGSU Rugby Club when he was a student there. Next year, during a planned tour of the U.K., the BGSU club is planning to play a match against Holliday’s old school, Mill Hill.)