Former BG rugby player and current head coach, continues family legacy at the University

Reporter and Reporter

There has been a Mazzarella roaming the College Park rugby field as coach of the Falcon rugby club for more than two decades.

After Roger Mazzarella stepped down as coach after the 2007-2008 season, his son Tony took over the team with great results.

Tony, who was a fullback for the BG squad from 1993-1998, is the team’s all time leader in points with 1,020 and tries with 141, and was also voted the team’s Most Valuable Player three times. As a player he was similar to Ed Luther, with a very intense attitude, but also had a little Max Narewski in him, as he was one of the top players on the field.

Tony’s father and coach, Roger Mazzarella, described the feeling that Tony sent through the crowd whenever he touched the ball.

“My wife told me this one time after a game, she said that every time Tony touched the ball he sent an electricity through the crowd and you knew something good was going to happen,” he said.

It was about five years after Tony graduated from the University, while spending time in New Zealand playing rugby sevens, that he realized he wanted to be a coach.

“Playing in New Zealand was a great experience for me; I learned a lot about the game that I didn’t already know,” Tony said.

Tony, who was also a hockey player in high school, looked for inspiration on a more national scale as well. One of his biggest inspirations was his high school hockey coach Herb Brooks, the popular coach of the 1980 Olympic hockey team who stunned the Soviet Union in the renowned “Miracle on Ice.”

His high school hockey team finished as runner up in the state championship when Tony was a senior and he credits most of the team’s success to their head coach.

“Our coach was really good,” Tony said. “He stressed to us that a team should never compare themselves to other teams and to execute the way you want all of the time.”

Tony is a coach who is rarely satisfied with winning — he is more result-driven and follows his hockey coach’s idea of execution first.

This may result in him having more of a stern coaching style concerning player interaction, but from a technical aspect both his father and team lock, Luther, agree that Tony is the best.

“Tony is way more into the technical aspect of rugby than I ever was,” Roger said. “In fact, he designed the current offense that we use all by himself and it has worked wonders to this point.”

Luther went even further, suggesting Tony was like the “captain of the ship” and made sure everyone was focused on the task at hand, whether it be having a good practice or execution in a game. Luther also referred to Tony’s great technical skills and dedication toward being the best.

“[Tony] is very dedicated and both he and his father Roger put in a lot of extra time to figure out better coaching strategies,” Luther said. “I would say his best quality is his exceptional knowledge of the game, which includes in-game adjustments, practice organization and all the behind the scene action [like fundraising].”

Whether it is his past playing experiences, offensive strategy or ability to make in-game adjustments, one thing is clear: the Falcons have done nothing but win under Tony’s direction.

From coming within a game of the national championship last year, to this year starting 8-1, it is obvious that BG rugby is on the way up.