Queen’s Men’s Rugby are no longer kings of the OUA as the Guelph Gryphons tore the Gaels’ undefeated record away on Saturday.
The Gaels and Gryphons went head-to-head at Nixon field on Sept. 30, fighting to protect their undefeated season record.
The Gryphons got off to a hot start, forcing a turnover and then swiftly scoring a try to put themselves ahead of the Gaels early on.
While Jacob Merkur, ArtSci ’25, from Vancouver answered with a try of his own, the Gryphons came back, powerfully scoring three more tries.
Before the end of the first half, James Webb, a Comm ’25 student from Toronto, was able to score a try to decrease the point deficit. Webb went two-for-two on conversions, helping the Gaels inch their way back into the game.
By the end of the first half, the Gryphons led 24-14.
The second half of the game was offensively lackluster for the Gaels. Despite setting Webb up for a penalty kick, the relentless effort of the Gryphons forwards were enough to carry them past the try line for another two tries.
The final score was 34–17 for the Gryphons.
Although the Gaels relinquished their undefeated status, the afternoon wasn’t all dark. The Gaels sported their National Truth and Reconciliation Day jerseys, which were designed by local artist Tsiokeriio (Diio) Hagen of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
The jerseys represented common values shared between the rugby team and the Haudenosaunee community. Team Captain Eric Godden, Sci ’23, expanded on the process of establishing a partnership with Hagen, and Amy Brant, who works with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives on campus.
“Putting on these jerseys means a lot for the team,” Godden said. “It’s great to see the community engagement with this, seeing everyone coming out to the field today because that’s what we’re trying to strive for in making this community effort.”
Jacob Merkur, ArtSci ‘25, had his first start of the season and was a true bright spot during the game against the Gryphons. He made numerous stops as the Gaels’ last line of defence and ran in his first try of the season.
Despite the result, Merkur felt the Gaels were prepared to beat the Gryphons but couldn’t put their plan into motion.
“I think we prepped as well as we could, we just didn’t come out on top today,” he said.
There was a bit of deja vu for former Gryphon, Evan Raymond, JD ’25. Raymond played with Guelph from 2019-22, where he held the positions of lock and second row.
Although it was a scrappy game and he sustained an injury, Raymond mentioned it’s all love at the end of the day. He emphasized although rugby can get heated, there’s always a sense of camaraderie when it comes to sport.
“It was [an] all-good, clean, hard-hitting game,” he said. “But you know, when I went down, I hurt my elbow, and they helped me off. It’s all love at the end of the day, and there’s no real hatred.”
Although the Gaels battled hard, Head Coach David Butcher saw many areas for improvement he hopes to patch up before next week’s game.
“I think there’s a number of things that are just not getting hit at the minute,” Butcher said. “We’re going to have to look at ourselves and see how we can support the players.”
The Gaels will face off against the Brock Badgers in St. Catharines on Oct. 7.
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