Rugby team falls short in national championship

BGSU falls to Notre Dame College, 39-17, in South Carolina

GREENVILLE, South Carolina — Bowling Green State University lost, 39-17, to Notre Dame College (Ohio) in the USA Rugby Men’s Division IAA Fall Championship on Sunday (Dec. 4) at Furman University’s Stone Soccer Stadium.

Even though it would have been the first championship in the storied history of the BGSU club squad, earning second place in a national tournament is still a team first. The Falcons have had a winning record for 48 consecutive seasons, and won the Mid-American Conference championship for the 36th straight year.

“Personally, it is going to take a long time for me to let go of the end result of this one,” said Roger Mazzarella, BGSU director of Rugby. “The guys put a lot of time, commitment and treasure into this, and to see it all end with a bad bounce and an interception doesn't do justice to the effort they contributed to get us to this point.”

The BGSU team owned the ball 91/2 of the first 10 minutes of the National Collegiate Championship match, but it was those other 30 seconds that left the Falcons on the losing end of the scoreboard to Notre Dame College.

The Falcons had worked their way to NDC’s 10-yard line, only to see a pass interception returned for 90 yards and an NDC try. Stealing the kickoff to NDC, the Falcons again marched to within the shadow of the goalposts. But a dropped pass was booted ahead and a timely bounce into the streaking arms of Notre Dame made the score 10-0.

The two mistakes put the Falcons in a deep hole that was tough to climb out of. NDC put in two more tries and led 24-0 before BGSU’s Nick Ross landed a penalty kick to make the halftime score 24-3.

“They capitalized on every mistake we made,” said Ross, the team’s captain. “They concentrated on bottling me up and centers Adam Regini and Griffen Palmer. But I have to admit those first two scores knocked us back plenty.”

NDC scored 10 more points on a try, a conversion kick and a penalty while BGSU struggled to find its offensive footing.

Hooker Phil Bryant finally cracked open the NDC defense with a try on the corner and with Ross's conversion, the race was on to make up lost ground.

Perrysburg High School grad Chris Labadie raced 60 yards down the sideline for a try and Ross's conversion made the score 34-17, but a late try by NDC put the game out of reach and relegated Bowling Green to second place in the nation.

Notre Dame College of South Euclid, Ohio, also nicknamed the Falcons, finished the season with an 18-0 record.

To advance to the national championship, BGSU defeated Eastern Kentucky University, 78-20, and Lindenwood University – Belleville (Illinois), 22-12, on Nov. 19-20 in the Midwest Regional in Richmond, Kentucky.

BGSU finished the year at 26-3-1, and will start sevens rugby season in March. The Falcons finished at No. 9 in the nation this past spring in sevens.