Men's rugby looking to return to OUA glory

After loss in finals last year, Gaels looking to win fifth OUA championship in six years

Men's rugby in a scrum last season versus Western.

After four straight years of winning championships, there was a changing of the guard atop men’s rugby in the OUA.

In a thrilling battle against the Guelph Gryphon’s in the final, Queen’s was on the wrong side of history. With a chance to win their fifth straight OUA Championship on the line, the Gaels were outlasted by their rivals in a decision made by penalty kicks to raise the Turner Trophy. 

That was nine months ago.

With the memory of the mid-November game well behind them, the men’s rugby team is settling in for another season with high expectations and a new set of eyes overlooking every step they take.

Earlier in the summer, the Gaels brought on coach Dave Butcher to man the varsity and development squad. Butcher will carry the torch that former head coach Gary Gilks once held as he hopes to improve on the team’s past successes.

When asked about his team, he said they have a lot of potential.

“We’ve got a really strong returning team…so we’ve got a strong leadership group and we’ve got five or six rookies that have played at a really high level and they’ve not just supported the group but really pushed some of the senior players, so obviously the standard is lifted,” Butcher said.

Butcher comes from a strong rugby background as a former player for the Scottish national team, as well as a coach and sports development professional in Canada and Scotland.

Butcher was adamant that any thoughts about last year’s finish have been erased and noted the team is raring to get another shot at an OUA championship.

“They very rarely speak about it, so we’ve just focused on what we’re doing,” Butcher said. “That’s been sort of their mind set since day one of camp so we’re very focused on how we perform.” 

Rather than stress the score line, Butcher is more focused on how the team plays.

“We’re very focused on performance and not as much on the outcome. We think if we take care of our individual and collective performances, then the outcome will come our way.”

Because Queen’s has visibly established a winning formula, Butcher says he doesn’t plan on changing the team’s style. Instead, he plans on making small additions to the way the Gaels approach their season. For Butcher, his main objective is overall enhancement, though he says he comes along with a few “non-negotiables.”

“The big thing for me is performance, outcome and focus. We’re going to be very developmental and performance focused,” Butcher said.

With that, Butcher sees the passion and desire the team has to be their best selves.

“You can tell the guys just bleed Queen’s, they want to play for Queen’s. I want to take the best bits of that and enhance it.

The team has gotten off to a strong start, as they took their season opener against Trent University by a score of 60-0. They take on the Laurier Golden Hawkes this weekend and will hold their home opener against RMC on September 16.

 

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