Men’s rugby are just one win away from a perfect regular season.
The Gaels trounced the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on homecoming Saturday, powering to a 78-0 victory in front of an energetic crowd.
While keeping their opponents entirely off the scoresheet for a time this season is impressive, the Gaels also recorded a season-high in points scored — improving on their high of 72 against Laurier.
Even though U of T came into the game with a 1-5, Queen’s head coach David Butcher said his team doesn’t focus their attention on their opponents’ form.
“It was obviously very, very one-sided, but what we always do is we don’t benchmark our performance based on the opposition,” he said, adding that it’s of little concern whether or not the Gaels play a bottom or top team.
“We have an internal drive, a specific performance measure that [the team] has to achieve, so it’s not all about the win —it’s about how we are achieving our set performance measures.”
Despite their dominance this year, the Gaels looked to have been saving their best play for their biggest event of the regular season.
Setting the tone for the afternoon, Jonathan Ezer scored the first try of the game for Queen’s within a minute of kick-off. By half-time, the Gaels had already racked up 47 points to all but ensure themselves another win.
Butcher noted the team’s depth as a particular takeaway from Saturday’s win.
“[W]e cycled a lot of our squad in and out — I think we had five first-team players completely rested,” he said. “We were able to see some of the guys from the second-team and players who haven’t gotten as many minutes on the pitch, so it was really pleasing to see them perform [well].”
A key to the Gaels’ dominance this season has been their free-scoring offense, often overmatching their opponents handedly. But as the old sports saying goes, defense wins championships.
Surrendering a meager total of 50 points on the season — conceding nearly one try per game — opponents have been ultimately unable to break Queen’s defensive lines. The team has only allowed more than 20 points once in their seven games played.
Butcher credits their all-around play to simply having an objective and abiding by it.
“All we focus on is what we want to do and how we’re gonna go about doing it,” he said.
With only a single match remaining before the OUA playoffs, their resounding victory over the Blues is another step towards what Butcher said was the team’s season goal: a championship.
Heading into the playoffs, the head coach said he’s “extremely confident,” and “really confident in terms of [the team] understanding how they need to play and perform.”
“Everyone’s on the same page now which wasn’t [always] the case; everyone now is 80 minutes on the same script,” he said.
“I would say that our ability to stick to that script and really understand how we’re playing as a team is probably what sets us apart.”
The Gaels will look to close the season out undefeated next weekend when they visit McMaster for their eighth and final game of the season.
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