Silver lining to rugby season

Men’s rugby fall in OUA final to Marauders on Saturday in Markham

Gaels’ centre Zach Pancer is pulled down by McMaster’s Sam Roberts Saturday in Markham.
Gaels’ centre Zach Pancer is pulled down by McMaster’s Sam Roberts Saturday in Markham.

The men’s rugby season ended in disappointment Saturday when they lost the OUA championship game for the second straight year. Last season, Queen’s was bested by the Brock Badgers; this time around, it was the McMaster Marauders who were the Gaels’ undoing.

Centre Zach Pancer said it was difficult to lose in the final again.

“It’s pretty tough losing two in a row,” he said.

Pancer said he thought the Gaels put in a tremendous effort, though.

“We left nothing on the field,” he said. “We played with a lot of heart. … It wasn’t the end of the season that we wanted, but Mac worked really hard and they deserved to win today.” The day started well for Queen’s, despite the muddy and rainy conditions at Fletcher’s Field in Markham. Chris Barrett scored an early try shortly after the opening kickoff, and added a second 20 minutes in after a long run from Scott Kyle. Queen’s wasn’t able to convert either try, but they still held a 10-0 lead for most of the first half.

Discipline problems came back to haunt Queen’s, though. Two Gaels were given yellow cards, reducing the team to 13 men on the field, and McMaster capitalized. The Marauders’ Sean Windsor converted a penalty 37 minutes in to make the score 10-3, and McMaster’s Mike Scholz added a try immediately afterward. Windsor hit the convert to tie the score and added another penalty in stoppage time to give McMaster a 13-10 lead.

Queen’s came out strong in the second half and held the ball in McMaster’s end for long periods, but the Gaels were unable to break over the try line and the Marauders added a try of their own in the final minute to ice the game.

Flanker Pat Richardson said it was a lack of discipline that cost Queen’s the game.

“I thought we outplayed them for most of the first part, but we just kind of fell behind and it didn’t work out,” he said.

Richardson said there were plenty of positives to take from the season, though.

“It was a great year,” he said. “It was our first loss of the year, and we lost by eight; we really only lost by three because they scored at the end when we were desperate.”

Head coach Peter Huigenbos said he was proud of his team’s effort and felt they controlled most of the game.

“Our players have a lot to be proud about but sometimes the bounces don’t go your way,” he said.

The lackluster ending marred what had otherwise been a bright season. The Gaels recorded their first undefeated campaign since 2001 with a 5-0-1 record. Huigenbos said the team can be pleased with what they accomplished.

“We’re extremely proud of the season we put together and how hard we worked,” he said. “It’s a bittersweet ending of course, but it’s the best season we’ve had in a long time and we’ll take that and build on it for next year.”

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