The Ohio State University Men’s Rugby squad is at it again. Just past – late April the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Union Sevens Championship in a thriller against Wisconsin. The badgers weren’t in any mood to concede victory to the Buckeyes, but Matt Stauder saw it in another context – scoring the winner – making The Ohio State University the 2017 BTU 7’s Champs.
“Technically I scored yes but I must give credit where credit is due,” said Stauder “First off, the last thing our coach Ron Bowers said on the sideline at halftime was ‘look for a pick-and-go opportunity, one will show up.’ So, that put the idea in my head. Then, our winger, JoJo Eramo, made a great play on the opening kickoff with a line break down the sideline that set up the easy pick-and-go for me on the blind side. We knew going into the tournament Wisconsin would be our toughest opponent and we’d likely have to play them in the final. So, props to them, they’re a great squad.”
Following the Buckeyes win in D.C. in the Cherry Blossom Tournament; they have been on fire.
“The team started preparing in early January with indoor skill sessions and conditioning,” said Bowers. “The weather was very cooperative for us this year. We had the opportunity to help 1823 prepare for Vegas the entire month of February twice a week. It helps to practice against Taylor Howden, Roland Suniula, Mason Baum and the rest of the pro guys for a month!”
The process of jumping from 15s to 7s is a delicate reality in collegiate rugby. Often schools simply jump out of the transitional time-frame, closing-down in late May, early June. The Ohio State University is one of the schools capable of the change. And with their determination they do it well.
OSU Rugby program director Tom Rooney agrees that the balancing is hardly easy. “The argument that playing 7s all spring costs us valuable repetitions as a full 15-man squad is a valid one,” said Rooney. “And spring 15s is the only time to get ready for fall 15s. These are all very tough choices and decisions.”
There is also the mental aspect to shifting between 15s and 7s.
It’s all paying off. The Buckeyes have now qualified for the USA Rugby National Tournament which begins on Friday May 19th in the knockout rounds, lasting through Sunday the 21st. It’ll be played in Glendale, Colorado in Infinity park. The Buckeyes will be one of 42 teams vying for the Championship trophy.
The qualifiers include:
University of Arkansas (Won Big XII and Red River Qualifiers)
Bowling Green State University (Won MAC Qualifier)
Davenport University (At-Large)
Florida International University (Won SIRC Qualifier)
Fordham University (Won Empire Conference Qualifier)
Grand Canyon University (At-Large)
James Madison University (Won Chesapeake Qualifier)
Kansas State University (At-Large – Won Heart of America)
Lindenwood University (At-Large – won LVI and won 2015 USA tournament)
Ohio State University (Won Big Ten Qualifier)
Santa Clara University (Won Jesuit 7s Qualifier)
Saint Mary’s College (At-Large – 2016 USA champion)
Stanford University (Won Pac West Qualifier)
Texas A&M University (At-Large – 2nd in Red River)
University of Utah (At-Large)
University of Wyoming (Won Rocky Mountain)
Others in the hunt will be:
And (Phew!) TTUN
This accounts for 36 teams. Six more are in the process of qualifying, or being at-large bids.
Undoubtedly this will be a grand time. The USA Rugby 7’s Championships will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
I will pass on more information as it becomes available.
But for now – be proud Buckeye Nation. This group of ruffians in Scarlet and Gray are a damn good team. A National Title will be nice – especially following the Men’s Volleyball capturing of the NCAA Men’s title for a 2nd year in a row. The dominance of the Buckeye spirit is contagious – is it not?