The men’s rugby team has faced the McMaster Marauders in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinals in each of the past three seasons. The winner has always gone on to be the provincial champion. OUA rugby’s premier rivalry will be renewed in Kingston on Saturday.
The Marauders eliminated the Gaels 34-20 in last season’s playoffs en route to their sixth OUA title in 10 years. Both teams enter Saturday’s match with 2-0 records.
“This week’s been all about [McMaster], we’ve stepped up the intensity in practice,” Gaels interim coach Garry Gilks said.
In their last game against Waterloo, Gilks said the Gaels lacked communication between the forwards and the backs, adding they’ve worked to address these issues all week.
“The focus on this is getting them to work together as 15 as opposed to one group and the other group,” he said.
Gilks said the starters have scrimmaged against their second team to get used to making plays and decisions under pressure, because nerves may be a factor on Saturday.
“I doubt many of them will be getting more than a couple hours of sleep because they will be thinking about the game,” he said. “Mac’s thinking the same way.”
Team captain Dan Moor has been part of the rivalry for three years. He said Saturday’s game will be physical.
“They have a bit more size, but we play faster and with more creativity,” he said.
Fullback David Worsley scored seven points in last season’s semifinal loss to the Marauders. He said the Gaels will be looking for revenge this weekend.
“They ended our season last year,” he said. “We definitely want to get them back and we know that we can.”
History suggests there’s a strong chance Saturday’s match could be an OUA gold medal preview. Either Queen’s or McMaster has won the title in eight of the past 10 years.
Marauders coach Phil White said his team will be using the match to gauge their progress this season.
“We’re interested to see how we stack up against them,” he said. “We have a wonderful and historic rivalry with Queen’s … it’s the way rugby should be.”
The Gaels and the Marauders will kick off at 1 p.m. on Tindall field on Saturday.
— With files from Gilbert Coyle
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