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September 21, 2023

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Rugby faces best in country for Nationals Tournament

DOminic Mauer, center, takes off on a scoring run earlier this season. Mauer was studying abroad in Italy and will be back for the Falcons at the national tournament.

After a limping backfield for most of the season, the BG rugby club will have everybody back in full force for the national tournament this weekend in Madison, Wisc.

Fullback Mitch Sora and wings Ryan Koenig and Nolan Cavano will be ready for playing duty. They, as a group, had 192 points from the fall.

Center Dominic Mauer has returned from Italy. He was responsible for 22 tries and 25 conversion kicks for 160 points in the fall, however the Falcons might need more than just Mauer to come out of the weekend with a couple of wins.

“This week, we have prepared for a very physical weekend,” said fly half Michael Ziegler. “We have been running through patterns of play and executing efficiently.”

The Falcons will start the tournament against Rice in the Sweet Sixteen. Rice went undefeated in the South West Conference.

The Texas-based conference includes Texas, Texas Tech, and Houston. Former BG assistant, Chris Hoops is now heading the Longhorns program and has provided the Falcons with a full scouting report.

Rice’s history in the nationals is not as extensive as BG’s as they have been there three times compared to BG’s 12 trips. Rice is coached by South African native, Mario Botha.

The director of the BG club, Roger Mazzarella, ultimately believes that Mauer could be the difference this weekend.

“Mauer is a deadly kicker, and he is so powerful and runs so low to the ground that it regularly takes two or three defenders to bring him down,” Mazzarella said. “That opens massive holes in the defense in other places.”

If BG can get by Rice, the team will face the winner of the Northern Illinois-Lindenwood match.

Lindenwood is a small college in Missouri, but a rugby powerhouse. The shool is a second year varsity program that won the D-II championship a year ago.

Lindenwood legitimized its rugby program with the full financial backing of the school, paid coaches and two dozen full scholarships. They are the team to beat in the Heart of America Conference.

They went 6-0 and scored 630 points while only giving up 35 points against the likes of Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

The Falcons matchup against Rice kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Elite Eight game would start at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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