With thrilling matches, narrowly securing their victories, the Women’s Rugby team protects their undefeated record while the Men’s team starts their season at home.
Men’s Rugby locks down a 25-19 victory over Laurier
The Men’s rugby team squared off against the Laurier Golden Hawks for the first time since the Gaels were defeated in last year’s OUA semi-finals. With redemption in mind, the Gaels looked to bounce back strong and send a message to the Golden Hawks in their home-opener at Nixon Field.
“We’ve been thinking about this game for almost 11 months now, but I’ve gotta give it to the boys for sticking to our game plan and being composed throughout the whole 80 minutes,” said Captain Eric Godden, Sci ’24, who played a vital role in both the Gael’s offensive and defensive success.
Defence was the name of the game for the Gaels, holding the Laurier Golden Hawks to just 19 points despite being on the defensive for most of the game. The Gaels made what seemed like an endless number of major stops on the try-line throughout the early and late stages of the game.
Most notably, a near try was converted into Gael points for flanker Allister Poulos, ArtSci ’24, late into the second half, icing the cake for the Gaels.
After the 25-19 victory, Gaels Head Coach David Butcher wasted no time identifying areas for improvement before next week’s tilt against another divisional powerhouse, the Guelph Gryphons.
“We can’t be defending for 40 minutes against Guelph because they will score tries, we’ve got to look at how we put our attack,” Butcher said. “We saw the blueprint of how we want to attack, but we’re gonna have to be a lot better.”
The Men’s Rugby team faces off against Guelph on Sept. 30 at Nixon Field.
Women’s Rugby scores last minute game-winning try against Guelph
As the Women’s team looked to secure another home win, it became instantly apparent this game wouldn’t be like their past few.
In the opening minutes of the game, the Gryphons punched in a penalty kick, scoring the first points against the Gaels all season.
The Gaels responded well, with captain Lizzie Gibson, ArtSci ’24, putting points of her own between the goal posts, followed by Rachel Cullum, ArtSci ’26, and Carmen Izyk, Nurs ’24, each landing tries before the end of the first half.
The landscape of the second half drastically differed from the first, with two vital Gael contributors, Maggie Banks, Nurs ’24, and Grace Anderson, Sci ’24, going down with injuries.
The Gryphons capitalized on the opportunity, scoring two tries accompanied by conversions to take a late two-point lead.
With a back-and-forth last 10 minutes of the game, a big hit created a turnover, allowing Cullum to score another try. This ignited Nixon Field as fans roared in support of their Gaels. The final score was 25-20 for the Gaels.
After the game, Gibson told The Journal how the women’s team is feeling with playoffs creeping up around the corner.
“We’re definitely getting a lot out of this,” she said. “That’s a closer game than we would’ve liked, but we’re gonna keep learning from this game, and learning from other games and keep adding to it.”
It was a chippier game against Guelph than we’ve previously seen out of the Gaels, but it didn’t seem to faze Gibson.
“We’ve been rivals for so long, I think it comes down to just the fight and the grit, both teams want it so badly, but I love that,” Gibson said. “You’re going to come at me and get a card, sure, and my team is going to back me up, and I’m going to back them up. We’ll take the card all day. I’ll take the hits, and we love that—fires the crowd right up.”
Head Coach Dan Valley praised the Gaels composure and discipline right up to the final whistle.
“Our ability to compete right until the final whistle, that was the epitome of minute zero to minute 80,” he said. “That was our ask, and it was just very cool to see us keep our composure and then deliver when we needed to deliver.”
The Gaels get back to work against the Brock Badgers on Sept. 29 in St. Catharines, Ontario, where they’ll look to continue their undefeated season.
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