Rugby to face two strong teams

The BG rugby team will have a true test this weekend, as they will play two games, one due to a postponement of last weekend’s matchup.

The Falcons were scheduled to play the Ohio Bobcats last Saturday, but three of OU’s transporting vehicles were involved in an accident, including a semi trailer, on the way to Bowling Green. The accident left two vehicles totaled, but nobody was injured.

BG will play at Cincinnati on Saturday and the team will return home to play Ohio on Sunday.

Cincinnati is 0-5 in league play and has been beaten by an average score of 43-8. The Falcons will have to avoid overlooking the Bearcats for their tougher matchup against the Bobcats the next day.

“We have to be on our game both days,” said Roger Mazzarella, director of rugby. “If we win both games, and depending on what Northern Illinois does against Dayton, we can wrap up the MAC Championship this weekend.”

BG vs. UC was one of rugby’s fiercest rivalries, but the two teams haven’t played each other since 1999. The Falcons came away with an 82-3 win that year.

Since 1999, the teams have been down different paths. BG made a run with eight national championship appearances, while the Bearcats dropped to D-II.

Cincinnati has recently moved back up to D-I, but it hasn’t been easy. New Head Coach Mark Heidrich has been working hard to get his team up to speed.

The Falcons are No. 9 in the nation, but Mazzarella knows they must show up to play this Sunday against Ohio if they want to come away with a win.

“We have to be careful not to overlook Ohio U. despite their record,” Mazzarella said. “This thing (the MAC Championship) won’t be in the bag until probably the last weekend – not with Northern Illinois nipping at our heels.”

Dating back to 2006, the Bobcats were the last MAC team to beat the Falcons. Before the loss that year, BG hadn’t lost a MAC game since 1998.

Ohio has always had a solid rugby program. This year’s team is led by fly half Shane McNea, flanker Brian McNamara and fullback Keith Van Horn.

Mazzarella recruited all three players, so he knows what they bring to the table and what to expect come Sunday.

“They are a large, hard running team that will try to overpower us rather than beat us tactically,” said lock Ed Luther. “This week, we need to contain their hard-running forwards with solid tackling on defense.”

BG has to continue to play aggressive defense and force turnovers. Offensively, they will need to continue to utilize their backs, Michael Zeigler and Dominic Mauer.

“OU is going to be hungry coming up here, so we’re going to have to play sound rugby and capitalize on their mistakes,” Luther said.

The Bobcats’ season has been a roller coaster thus far. They can’t find a way to win on the road, and the Falcons know they need to be in the right mindset because Mazzarella’s team doesn’t know what to expect from this year’s co-favorite in the MAC.

Ohio lost to Dayton and Northern Illinois earlier this season, in which neither are easy wins on any given day.

The Falcons defeated the Bobcats last spring with a score of 27-12.

BG will travel to Cincinnati on Saturday and are scheduled to play at 1 p.m. The team is scheduled to host Ohio on Sunday at 12 p.m.