Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rugby East Preview: St. Bonaventure

Pictured L - R: Pat McCormack, Stephvan Tanner, Luis Carpo
Article by Ryan J. Trost 
Artwork by Todd J. Elliott
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Head Coach: Tui Osborne
2015 Fall Record: In Conference (2-5), Overall (3-5)
6th place, Rugby East
Currently ranked outside of D1A Top-Twenty

Players to Watch

Kyle Ciquera, So.
1st Team All-Conference, 2015
Luis Carpo, Sr.
2nd Team All-Conference, 2015
Christian Artuso, So.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
Patrick McCormack, So.

Eamonn Matthews, So.

Stephvan Tanner, So.

After already making strides late in the fall of 2015, St. Bonaventure made one huge final statement ahead of their appearance at the ACRC Bowl Series. As reported here, the Bonnies’ Director of Rugby, Clarence Picard was able to work out a relationship with former Life University coach, Tui Osborne just days prior to their match with Western Michigan . It was a move that was sure to have implications on the team’s future. This off-season the SBU athletic department made their support official as well. Both Osborne and Picard are now full time salaried coaches of the varsity program.

Delegating the coaching responsibilities of the men’s team was a savvy decision by Picard, who is overseeing big picture development of the Bonnies’ Rugby tradition. It says a lot about the direction in which the program is headed. They are honest about their benchmarks and committed to reaching the top.

Take the jump to read more.
So, like dual blades on a razor, Osborne and Picard are now cutting cleaner structural lines for the boys to follow, both on and off the pitch. “The culture was already pretty good when I got here,” said Osborne. ““Winning that (ACRC Bowl match) was very important. We put in structured phases that week and after the win, their mentality started changing.”

There is a like-minded vision that Picard was looking for when he hired Osborne. Osborne describes it as a “peer-driven standard of excellence”, that he and Dan Payne instilled at Life U. To raise the standard at Bona, Picard and Osborne identified issues with last year’s team, which had more to do with mentality than with talent.

They want athletes, but they want the right athletes. They want their players to approach sport and life more professionally. “The mentality should be that their goals (including rugby) are not an ‘option’,” said Osborne. After three consecutive wins to finish the conference season last year, followed by a Bowl win and an exciting College 7s playoff performance, Osborne believes his men now see the benefit.

He is confident in the talent coming up at SBU and with Picard guiding the cultural aspects, Osborne is free to focus on details of gameplay. “They’ve gotten a lot of reps together this summer, in mini groups… getting to know each other’s traits,” he said. “Running on each other’s abilities, the game plan will be around that.”

One of the interesting moves he has already made is to transition former flanker, Stephvan Tanner out to the #12 position. The 2nd year Bonnie is a truck of a man at 6’1” 235 lb. With a few extra paces ahead of him, he could be a very dangerous element for opposing centers to deal with.

Indeed, the Bonnies sophomore class is looking very healthy. A couple of Freshman All-Conference nods and a number of just under the radar mates along with them have longtime Bonas like Luis Carpo eyeing a chance to close the gap on that top tier in Rugby East. It is a pretty significant gap at times, but we say Iona pull closer last year. We will see if the Bonnies have the formula this year too.

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