In the span of two weeks, two members of the Saint Ignatius rugby team have committed to St. Bonaventure University.
In mid-January, Janniel Badeas announced his decision. This week, Ricky Rose confirmed his commitment.
Two weeks ago, we told the story of Janniel Badeas. Today, we relate the tale of Ricky Rose, which begins in a much different way.
Badeas discovered the sport of rugby through a video game. His mom instructed him not to play. In Rose's case, his mom just about forced him to play. As Rose tells it, he initially had no interest in playing rugby.
"It's one of the best decisions I didn't make actually. I was going to play lacrosse. I liked the program here, but I didn't like the sport as much," Rose explained. "I was worried, because I thought, 'I have to play a sport.' My mom said, 'You're going to try rugby.' I said I didn't want to do it, but my mom insisted that I try out rugby. It was love at first sight."
Beyond his mom's urging, Rose's dad also encouraged him to play. Many Wildcats fans might recognize his dad, Dr. Rick Rose '65. Dr. Rose starred on the 1964 City Championship team under legendary coach John Wirtz. Dr. Rose holds the school record for extra points in a game with eight, tallied against since-closed West Tech at West Tech Field on November 16. He also stands at 10th in program history with 48 PATs in 1964. What many might not know is that Dr. Rose later played rugby.
"My dad had played football here and in college, and also played rugby for the Beacon Hill Rugby Club," Ricky said. "He said rugby was his all-time favorite sport. I had said, 'I'm not playing that weird sport,' but it was love at first sight. I really liked it."
Ricky Rose joined the program as a freshman and quickly improved under Head Coach Dan Arbeznik '00 and his excellent coaching staff.
The great coaching, along with close relationships with teammates, helped Rose fall in love with a spot he once looked upon suspiciously.
"I was not good during my freshman year, but I liked it so much because of my teammates, way more than any other sport I had played through grade school," Rose said. "The seniors were nice and a lot of fun. It's a sport where you're not a specialist at one position. You have to run, hit, and tackle. It's everything you could want in a sport. The camaraderie is great."
Rose worked his way up from the developmental squad to the B-side last season, seeing some time on the A-side level by the end of the season. Rose helped the B-side squad capture the Division 1-B RugbyOhio Championship over St. Edward, 19-15, and dressed for the A-side's 15-3 win over the Eagles for the Division 1 Rugby Ohio title.
Arbeznik witnessed Rose's development, marveling at the young man's drive and ambition.
"Ricky is one of those guys that you wish you could have followed with a camera from freshmen year to show younger players, 'This is how it's done.' He came to us as a 15-year-old a bit gangly, not having grown into his body, not familiar with the weight room, not strong, not fast ... and he changed all of that," Arbeznik said. "He committed to the weight room, started running more frequently, changed his diet, and looked for attainable ways of making himself a better player and a healthier person.
"But most importantly, Ricky has had this galvanizing positive attitude. He went from a liability out on the field to a real force. It was about mid-way through his junior year when he really started turning the coaches' heads. As a B-side player he was giving our A-side real trouble with his pace and aggression at the gainline. Something clicked in him and that confidence just went through the roof. Since then, we've really come to rely on him as being one of our premier leaders within the club. St. Bonaventure is getting much more than a good rugby player."
Splitting his time between the second-row and Number-8 spots, Rose is hard to miss on the pitch. First off, Rose often stands head-and-shoulders above his foes at 6-foot-6. Beyond his size, Rose's pure energy and enthusiasm on the field are inspiring. Opponents would do well to avoid Rose, for fear of being run over.
Off the field, Rose's red hair matches his warm personality. If you run into Rose around Saint Ignatius, rarely will you see him without a smile on his face or hear him without a hearty laugh.
Rose's teammates love him, too. It explains why the cheery Medina native was named a team captain leading up to the 2019 season.
Rose's rugby and leadership abilities made him a promising prospect to a number of top-flight rugby programs. Kentucky, Xavier, and St. Bonaventure all showed interest in the senior. At the end of the day, it all came down to feel for Rose.
"At first, I was talking to the coaches at Kentucky. I was really excited about them, because they were the first college to talk to me," Rose said. "And then, I visited the school, and liked it, but it was a little too big for me. Then, I visited Xavier and liked it a little more. It was a perfect, third time's a charm for St. Bonnie's. I visited Juan Pen and Alex Chura and found the perfect mix of a small college and a good group of guys. The coach contacted me a few weeks before I visited, and we hit it off. I really liked the visit."
St. Bonaventure's coaching staff played a significant role in his choice.
The Bonnies are led by head coach Andrew "Tui" Osborne. The veteran coach joined the St. Bonaventure staff in 2015 following a succesful tour of duty with Life University, guiding the Marietta, Georgia school to national championships in 15s (2014) and Sevens (2011). Osborne also played for the USA Eagles men's national team from 2006-08.
"I really liked talking to him because he's a very hands-on coach. He's very accomplished," Rose said of Coach Osborne. "He practices with the guys sometimes, so I hit it off well with him. The first coach I talked to was Danny Neighbour, the forwards coach. He's a guy from England, and he's a very nice guy. They helped me become comfortable immediately."
Another important factor was the familiarity with the players at St. Bonaventure.
Two Wildcats committed to SBU last spring – Alex Chura '18 and Juan Pen '18. The two Rugby Cats helped the program earn back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018 before accepting offers to become Bonnies.
"It was a huge factor, because knowing Alex and Juan gave me guys to visit with and hang out with," Rose said. "One of my friends from St. Ed's who graduated last year, Grant Gutchall, goes there too. We all played club rugby in the summer, so they were big influences on me going there for sure."
With one more season left at Saint Ignatius and a college education ahead, Rose has a bright future ahead. Whatever Rose's career path, as long as he keeps his zest for life and keeps working hard, he'll be a success.
Before Rose embarks on the remainder of his senior year, he has a few people he wants to thank.
"I want to thank my mom and dad, he was the biggest one. I'm also thankful for Coach 'Bez, for being a great coach and making Saint Ignatius a successful program," Rose said. "Also thank you to everyone at St. Bonaventure, including Mr. Kelly, who was very influential, and Coach Tui."
On behalf of Saint Ignatius athletics, Congratulations, Ricky!