It’s almost that time of year again. The time of the year for bone crushing hits, jaw dropping passes, and runs that will have you saying, “Wow, I wish I could do that!” Yes, the BGSU Men’s Rugby season is upon us. Coming off a spectacular showing at the USA Sevens Rugby Collegiate Championship Invitational, with our own Rocco Mauer being named MVP, the BGSU Men’s Rugby team is hoping to keep the momentum rolling. With an experienced backline, led by Nick Viviani, and a group of young, promising forwards, the BGSU Men’s Rugby team is poised to make another journey to nationals, but this year that journey will be a little different.
The Division 1 rugby landscape has undergone a shift of seismic proportions. 32 of the top teams have left Division 1 to form the new College Rugby Premier League. Unfortunately, Bowling Green could not participate due to financial and travel issues, which left some players and coaches disappointed. “This is going to be a good thing for college rugby, because by having all of the elite teams playing against each other, college rugby will get more exposure, it’s just a bummer though that we can’t be a part of that”, says senior scrumhalf Ben Marshall.
So, where does this leave Bowling Green and the rest of Division 1? Will the BGSU Men’s Rugby team be left without anyone to compete against? The road to the national championship is different for the upcoming season.
The tradition of the Midwest Championship is no more. With Bowling Green dominating the Midwest, winning the last three championships, their competitors are likely pleased. Bowling Green is now part of the Eastern Conference, along with Indiana, Davenport, Miami (OH), and Purdue. There will be a four team playoff to determine who earns a spot in the Division 1 National Championships.
The primary advantage to this format is that travel costs are reduced. The conference tournament is held a little bit closer to home, rather than having to travel to Minnesota, and the first round of the National Championships is more regionally based.
With the landscape of Division 1 rugby changing drastically, so does the BGSU Men’s Rugby team’s goals. It’s all about winning championships, except this time the focus has been put purely on winning a National Championship, instead of a Midwest Championship. With Nick Viviani and Rocco Mauer leading this group of very talented players, that goal is within reach.