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The Bowling Green University rugby team leaves today for a tour of England and to reconnect with a long-standing connection between BGSU and England.
One of the co-founders of Bowling Green Rugby is, Roger Holliday, is a graduate of Mill Hill School. The Englishman still lives in Bowling Green. The program’s first coach, Aiden Kelley, was also English.
BGSU tours every three or four years. This is their third tour to the England, but the first since 1995. Since then they have toured Wales, Ireland, France and twice to South Africa.
Roger Mazzarella, longtime BGSU Head Coach and father of current Head Coach Tony Mazzarella, was also a member of the first BGSU team in 1968. He coached the Falcons on their 1987 and 1995 tours to England, the latter had Tony Mazzarella as vice captain.
“I am very definitely old-school rugby,” said Mazzarella the elder, “having been brought up in all the traditions of the sport. That is one of reasons this club makes tours such as this. I firmly believe that a foreign tour builds a sense of tradition, camaraderie, and shared sacrifice that makes the club stronger and a more closely knit entity. Time and time again I have been told by alumni that the particular rugby tour they went on is still one of the significant highlights of their lives.”
Mazzarella added that a tour often sees a corresponding increase in fortunes for the club.
Bowling Green will be touring with a diverse group.
“We'll have 20 fulltime player, nine of whom are on the 1st XV,” said Mazzarella. “The others come from the 2nd and 3rd XVs. We're also carrying five alumni (40+ years in age and includes me and Tony) who are planning on at least getting in a game so we can say we played against Saracens.”
There are 45 in the total tour group.
The team hopes see four Mazzarellas on the field at one time, with Roger, Tony, and cousins (and twins) Vic and Vince.
“Vic and Vince are classic examples of the typical US rugby career,” said Mazzarella. “They grew up in Colorado - their dad was an Air Force colonel and a squadron commander at Bentwaters USAF base near Norwich - hearing about rugby from both their dad and me. They did the usual football, basketball, track thing in high school. When they went to Colorado School of Mines for college, I had already alerted the college coach about their arrival. He was waiting to sign them up when they checked into their dorm as freshmen. They ended up as president and captain of the club before graduating in December 2010.”
Bowling Green Tour Itinerary:
March 3 London Wasps coaching class.
March 4 See Saracens v. Northampton
March 6 BGSU v. Saracens 7pm local time
March 7 Visit Rugby, Warwickshire, and Webb Ellis Rugby Muesum.
BGSU v. Rugby Lions
March 10 BGSU v. London Italians