Rugby dulls Excalibur’s edge

Gaels start season with a bang in 78-0 home opening rout of Trent

Gael Steve Shortly, a recent transfer from McMaster, eludes a tackle during his team’s 78-0 defeat of Trent on Saturday.
Gael Steve Shortly, a recent transfer from McMaster, eludes a tackle during his team’s 78-0 defeat of Trent on Saturday.
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The Gaels’ men’s rugby squad put on a show in their home opener Saturday, defeating the Trent Excalibur 78-0.

Trent head coach Kevin Breese said losing by such a wide margin was difficult for his team to handle. “I think it was a tough lesson for our guys,” he said. “It was a hard day for us.” The match started as a defensive struggle, with the teams exchanging possession for the first 14 minutes. Queen’s finally broke through and scored a try on a one-yard run by Bryn Davies, who missed the ensuing conversion kick, leaving the score at 5-0 for Queen’s. The floodgates opened, and the score was 34-0 at the half.

In the second half, the Gaels used all seven of their reserve players. One of the starters who remained in the match, fourth-year veteran Colin Alexander, scored the game’s most spectacular try. The Excalibur had the ball within 10 yards of the Queen’s goal when Mike Simmons knocked it loose with a hard tackle. Tim Richardson recovered the ball and quickly passed to Alexander, who promptly ran the length of the field and dodged several tacklers to record the try.

The game featured tries from 10 different Gaels, with three of them scoring two tries. Steve Shortly, a recent transfer from McMaster making his first start for the Gaels, said he was impressed with the play of the Gaels’ substitutes. “They played great. Obviously, it’s not just a team of 15, it’s a team of whoever’s on the bench [as well], so we need everyone to contribute and help out, and that’s exactly what they did today.” Shortly said the Gaels were nervous early on.

“The first 10 minutes was all over the place, but we held our composure and eventually things opened up.” Alexander said he was particularly impressed with the Gaels’ defence.

“We tried to focus on that. I told the guys before, ‘We want to play perfect defence; we don’t want a single point on the board.’”

Gaels head coach Peter Huigenbos said the margin of victory came as a surprise.

“Trent gave us a very good game last year, and actually scored three tries off us last year, more than any other team in the league, so we really wanted to start fast today and put up a good defence. Keeping them off the scoreboard was a big plus.”

Huigenbos said he was pleased with the team’s cohesiveness.

“We’ve been preaching teamwork for the last two weeks of training camp, and the guys definitely played for each other out there.”

Huigenbos said the team’s depth played a key part in the victory. “I’m very happy with the seven guys who came off the bench,” he said. “I feel that any of those seven guys could start on any team in the OUA this year.”

Next up for the Gaels is a trip to the University of Toronto, where they will play the Varsity Blues

on Saturday.

Huigenbos said even though they aren’t playing on home turf, the team expects a fair bit of support on the trip.

“We have a lot of alumni living in Toronto, so the boys really want to put on a good solid effort. Toronto is a great host, and they’ve always put together a good team on the pitch.” Huigenbos said the Gaels will have to play their best on Saturday.

“We expect a hard game, and we know that we have some things to improve on from this game.”

Huigenbos said the team needs to work on kickoff returns in particular.

“Our restarts, our kickoff receptions were quite poor… we need to clean those things up,” he said.

Alexander said the game plan against the Blues will be much the same. “We’re going to try and build on the same sort of thing,” he said.

“We’re going to try to move the ball, we’re going to play our game, and we’ll be building stuff for the game against [McMaster] after Toronto.”

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