Tall task for rugby

Gaels head to Western for OUA final on Sunday

Captain Dan Moor runs in the men's rugby team's 32-10 semifinal win over McMaster last weekend.
Captain Dan Moor runs in the men's rugby team's 32-10 semifinal win over McMaster last weekend.

If the men’s rugby team wants to win the OUA title in London tomorrow, it will have to stop Conor Trainor.

New Zealand, the 2011 Rugby World Cup Champions, couldn’t do it. Trainor, the Western Mustangs’ outside centre, scored two tries for the Canadian national team against New Zealand at the World Cup on Oct. 2. He was with team Canada in Wellington, New Zealand when the top-ranked Mustangs beat the Gaels 13-7 in regular season play on Oct. 1.

Gaels head coach Peter Huigenbos was also at the World Cup as Canada’s video coach.

“It will be a different challenge for our guys to play against [Trainor],” he said. “He’s a very strong runner. Lucky for me, I don’t have to go out and tackle him.”

The Mustangs went 8-0 this season to finish ahead of the 7-1 Gaels. Both teams earned first-round playoff byes and won their OUA semifinal games last weekend. Western beat the Guelph Gryphons 28-3 while Queen’s came from behind to beat the McMaster Marauders 32-10 at Tindall field.

Gaels inside centre George Gleeson and flanker Matt Kelly were both injured in last weekend’s win over the Marauders. Gleeson is currently 12th in OUA scoring with five tries this season, while Kelly is a former U20 national team player and one of the Gaels’ best players. If they can’t play, Mike Van de Westhuizen and Dylan McTavish will fill in.

Huigenbos said he’s hopeful both players will dress, but he’s confident in any subs that he puts in as backups if his two starters sit out.

“We have great medical staff and guys have had less turnaround with bigger injuries … they haven’t been ruled out yet,” he said. “[But] that’s what we do at Queen’s, we build our depth so we have guys ready to step in.”

The Gaels were solid defensively against McMaster, something Huigenbos said they’ve been working to perfect all season.

According to Huigenbos, the Gaels have matured since winning an OUA bronze last season.

“The nucleus of the team is still the same, but they’ve grown up another year and are making better decisions on the park,” he said. “It definitely helps having Liam Underwood out there.”

After an electrifying rookie season in 2009, Underwood sat out last season with an ankle injury. This season, the fly half is the OUA’s scoring leader. Western’s Mike Turnbull, the league’s second-highest scorer, will also be playing on Sunday.

The OUA gold medal game starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Western University’s TD Waterhouse Stadium.

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