Queen’s finally wins its rugby crown

After two consecutive losses in the final, the Gaels cap off their first perfect season since 2001 with OUA gold

The men’s rugby team crowds around the Turner Trophy after their 23-19 finals win over the Western Mustangs on Saturday.
The men’s rugby team crowds around the Turner Trophy after their 23-19 finals win over the Western Mustangs on Saturday.
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Scrum-half Liam Underwood celebrates the final whistle of the Gaels’ OUA finals victory over the Mustangs at Fletcher’s Field.
Scrum-half Liam Underwood celebrates the final whistle of the Gaels’ OUA finals victory over the Mustangs at Fletcher’s Field.
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Two years ago, the men’s rugby team only lost one game all season but fell to the Brock Badgers in the OUA Final. Last season, they finished their season at 5-0-1 and lost in the finals to the McMaster Marauders. This year, the Gaels won all 10 games they played, going a perfect 8-0 during the regular season before winning their first Turner Trophy since 2001 with a win over the Western Mustangs last Saturday.

Captain Ryan Kruyne, who notched the penalty goal that turned the Gaels’ fortune during this year’s final, said the win was three years in the making.

“It just showed the progress and the building that we’ve put in through the years,” he said. “Two years ago we were pretty good and we got to the final. Last year we had an undefeated season as well but we had a tie against Western, but this year shows how much we’ve built and progressed through the years.”

Kruyne said the team’s structure allowed them to achieve a 10-win season this year. The rugby club is composed of four teams, the top two of which are made up of varsity players

“We started off and through the years we built relationships and we built our core group and it allowed us to integrate the new people to be a part of that. We’ve built a structure now that can carry on through the years,” he said.

With a slate of graduating players this year, Kruyne said the structure the rugby clubs have built will allow them to remain competitive in the years to come.

“Guys are constantly working their asses off to reach [the first team],” he said. “If you think about it, for every guy leaving this year there’s a guy right behind him just as good so I’m very confident going forward. The coaching’s great and we’ve put in the work to get the structure and the development right to carry this momentum.”

Head coach Peter Huigenbos said his team’s depth allowed the Gaels to remain competitive.

“It was a great deal of effort on the part of the players and the coaches and the program to be able to compete for the title every year,” he said, adding that many of this year’s first team started on the third and fourth teams. “Their work ethic showed the program can succeed by providing the guys with opportunities to succeed over the years.”

Huigenbos said he expects future teams to maintain this year’s work ethic.

“I wouldn’t want to put that onus on any team, to repeat what the 2009 team did,” he said. “It’s a tall order—to win 10 games from 10 is very rare. All we want from any team in any season is that they put the same amount of effort that this team did, and to put the work in. The wins will happen when they happen, but the bottom line is that we need to strive to get better. I don’t see that desire going away with a core group of guys returning and a group of guys looking to make a name for themselves.”

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