Gaels pass pre-season tests

Pre-season ends on a high note at the Queen’s-Dartmouth Annual Rugby Classic as men’s rugby prepares for their season opener against the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks

This year’s Gaels dominate the McGill Redmen in pre-seaon action at Tindall Field on Sept. 5.
This year’s Gaels dominate the McGill Redmen in pre-seaon action at Tindall Field on Sept. 5.

At Tindall Field on Sunday, the Queen’s rugby team comfortably defeated the McGill Redmen by a score of 31-0. The game capped off a series of exhibition games against McGill, Dartmouth College and Syracuse University as the Gaels prepare for their season opener against Wilfrid Laurier next Sunday.

Head coach Peter Huigenbos was pleased with his team’s effort heading into the regular season.

“The guys were patient and we came out focused,” he said. “This is a hard-working group and I was happy with the way things went.” He is confident that the team will be ready for next Sunday.

“You’re only ready week to week, but we were strong fundamentally,” he said. “Each week is different, so it depends on the game day.” The Gaels opened with an early lead thanks to a try from veteran winger David Slattery. After some hard work from the Queen’s forwards to retain ball possession, prop Burke MacDonald spun a sublime pass out to Slattery who put one down for the home team.

The Gaels showed why they had a perfect season last year, playing a balanced, fundamentally sound match. Queen’s dominated for the entire game with air-tight defense and strong, quick passing that kept McGill pinned in their own end for the majority of the game.

Fourth-year eight-man Russell Gray echoed his coach’s sentiments with respect to the Gaels’ sound fundamentals. When asked what his team did well, he replied bluntly with one word: “Defence.” “We had a lot of new faces out there,” he said. “It was a great experience for us to get used to playing alongside each other.” As the game progressed, Queen’s added four more tries scored by Gray, one from second-year winger Dan Moor, and two from third-year scrum half Andrew Kirk. Kirk, who is taking over the starting role at scrum half, showed creativity and confidence as he juked several McGill defenders.

After last year’s thrilling victory over Western in the OUA finals, the team is eager to defend their title. Gray conveyed his excitement for the beginning of the season.

“I thought training camp was good and tough, which is the way it should be,” Gray said. “It got everyone well-prepared physically and mentally for the season ahead.” The spotlight now switches to the Gael’s match against Laurier this Sunday when the squad gets their first opportunity to prove they’re still the best team in Ontario university rugby.

“We’re always building and trying to get better with each game,” Gray said. “Hopefully we can take some things away from this win and be ready for Laurier.”

The Queen’s Gaels take on the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks in Waterloo next Sunday at 1 p.m.

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