This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching the final game of the 2017 St. Bonaventure rugby camp. There were 35 high school aged rugby players in attendance from across New York State and from as far away as North Carolina. 18 of those players came from the WNY area representing teams from Canisius RFC, Fairport RFC, Grand Island RFC, Kenmore RFC and Orchard Park RFC.
When talking with Head Coach Tui Osborne from St. Bonaventure men’s rugby he stressed that he wanted the kids to learn the culture of the game and to make it fun. Coach Tui’s wealth of culture and Knowledge came from being a former USA Eagles 15 & 7’s player, 2007 World Cup player and former 3X National Champion Coach at Life University. Also helping at the camp were Nick Mauer (HC Canisius HS RFC), Ben Mateialona (HC and Director of Rugby at Detroit Cath. HS), Dylan Fawsitt (HC Fordham Prep HS) and Eamonn Mathews (Capt. of St. Bonaventure Mens Rugby).
I talked to Josh Smith former Kenmore RFC Captain who is attending St. Bonaventure in the fall and is a counselor at the camp this year about what it meant to him being there. His first thought was about Coach Tui bringing a positive fun attitude to the camp. He said he also has been teaching the players about rugby culture. I asked Josh what his thoughts on being a counselor to some of his past teammates from the Kenmore RFC meant to him. Josh was quick to say he hopes the players look up to him as a D1 rugby player but also as a positive influence. He was also very excited that six players from his old team attended the camp and are committed for another successful season.
I had a chance to talk to several of our local WNY players during and after the game to get their thoughts. Dan Harig from the Canisius RFC said he came to the camp to improve on his overall skills but felt the bonding experience with all the other players was great. It was Jake Miller from the Grand Island RFC first time attending a camp and said he loved it! The best part was the bonding experience with the other players and the counselors. He was looking forward to attending next year already. Pat Mann and Rocko Arnold both from Orchard Park RFC liked how the camp worked on team work and communication. They both said that competing in the ROTC obstacle course set up on campus was key on them communicating and working as team players. Both felt that was a fun drill and carried the same mindset of teamwork and communication out onto the field.Last I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Brooks and Hunter Phillips from Kenmore RFC. Both Brooks and Phillips said this was the best camp they had ever attended. Brooks mentioned team bonding with a campfire and said Coach Tui should be on American Idol. He wouldn’t elaborate much more. Philllips said he had a great time and the campus was beautiful. They also added that Coach Tui and the counselors made the camp a lot of fun along with teaching them leadership and about rugby culture.
From all the players responses Coach Tui and staff accomplished what they set out to do. Grow the game of rugby by creating a culture and making it fun. Congrats and best of luck to all the players.
**Pictures Courtesy of Cal Phillips/WNYAthletics.com**