Gaels fall to Trent in regular-season opener

After strong preseason, Queen’s women’s rugby falls to Excalibur in Peterborough on Wednesday night

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The Queen’s women’s rugby team in action against the Carleton Ravens Sunday in an exhibition match. Queen’s won that game, but lost 18-15 to the Trent Excalibur Wednesday.
The Queen’s women’s rugby team in action against the Carleton Ravens Sunday in an exhibition match. Queen’s won that game, but lost 18-15 to the Trent Excalibur Wednesday.
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The women’s rugby team couldn’t maintain their preseason momentum into the regular season, falling 18-15 to the Trent Excalibur Wednesday in Peterborough. It was the Gaels’ first regular-season match.

Queen’s co-captain Shauna Geerts said the loss was tough for the team to take, coming on a late try from Trent.

“It was a little disheartening, because it happened right at the end,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a damper on the morale.”

Geerts said the team won’t have any trouble getting fired up for their weekend home opener against the York Lions, though, and they’re planning to use the close loss as motivation. The match takes place Sunday at 1 p.m. at Kingston Field.

“We’re going to come out nasty on Sunday,” Geerts said. “We know it’s a must-win.”

She said one of Trent’s key advantages against the Gaels was their ability to utilize tricky offensive schemes.

“We struggled a bit with them running complex plays,” she said.

The Gaels improved from their previous exhibition match Sunday against the Carleton Ravens, despite having won 32-8 on the weekend, Geerts said.

“I actually think we played better in this game than we did in the previous game, despite the loss,” she said.

Geerts said the Gaels are still learning a new offensive scheme.

“We are trying a radically new offensive strategy,” she said. “Every game it gets better, and the more communicative we are and the more effective we are, it gets better and better, so that’s what we always have in the back of our minds.”

Geerts said the strategy revolves around every player learning to play every role, rather than the traditional rigid specialization involved in rugby.

“Usually, what you have is the forwards and the backs, you have specific positions and everyone has their specific role,” she said. “This year, people do have numbers on their backs, but outside of set pieces, the scrums and lineouts, the term is all players, all skills. We all know how to pass it, we all know how to kick it, we all know how to do everything.”

Geerts said the strategy sees the players subdivided into three groups of five, each of which acts as an independent unit. She said the new offence has been effective, but it just requires some fine-tuning.

“If everyone has the ability to do everything, then it works, and it has been working,” she said. “We just have to get a little better at it.”

Head coach Beth Barz said the team wasn’t disciplined enough against Trent.

“We definitely shot ourselves in the foot a little bit by taking way too many penalties,” she said. “By my count, we had over 20 in the game.”

Barz said she thinks the team will continue to improve, especially as they continue to learn the new offensive scheme.

“I expect to get better and better every week,” she said. “I know that what we’re trying to do now is difficult, and it’s going to take some time.

Barz said a key problem Wednesday was poor decision-making close to the goal line.

“We ran the offence generally well, but when we put ourselves in situations where we could make one decision that would have been the best option, often we chose the second- or third-best option,” she said. Barz said the team will still have to work on making better offensive decisions, but she’s been thrilled with the play of her rookies so far.

“They’ve been great,” she said. “Andrea Wadsworth had a great game today, she played at fullback, Claire Miller was playing at nine [scrum-half] and she played really quite solidly [and] Joanna Watkins started at inside-centre today, played well and made a couple of big tackles. She really looked solid at what she needed to do. In general, it looks really good.”

Barz said the strong contributions from her rookies didn’t come as a surprise, though.

“I was absolutely expecting it and I’m expecting to see a lot more.”

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