Three days in November

A love for a women’s rugby that I never knew existed

I’ve been to March Madness, NFL games and even one of this year’s Blue Jays playoff games. 

But my three days spent on the sidelines of Nixon Field for the women’s rugby national championship easily matched them in intensity.

Throughout Queen’s run to the championship game, I got swept up by the action and emotions of the process. When the final whistle had blown, I can wholeheartedly say I didn’t want the season to end.

 If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that I’d have all these feelings, I would have said you were lying.

One of my first assignments I had for The Journal was a story on women’s rugby. Having watched it only a handful amount of times, it was a sport I didn’t understand and didn’t really feel any attachment to. 

As we grow up, women’s sports isn’t presented at the forefront of sports media or journalism. It’s only during an event like the Women’s World Cup or the Olympics that we get a real insight into women’s athletics. 

As Assistant Sports Editor, I felt obligated to cover a fall team, but I couldn’t say my first choice was women’s rugby. I knew I’d be writing on women’s sports over the course of the year, but my passion was pretty low.

After talking to the players and coaches over the course of the season, I warmed up to the idea of writing this beat. I went from being indifferent to a mainstay at every game.

To start the national championships, the Gaels were paired up with top-seeded Acadia in the quarterfinals. Being seeded lowest in the tournament, most people wouldn’t have given Queen’s a shot in that game. Over the course of little over an hour I saw a team claw from 17 points down to victory. 

I was supposed to be an unbiased journalist, but in reality I turned into the team’s biggest fan.

I know that’s not my role. I try to make my writing as unbiased as possible while still appealing to Queen’s students. But while on the sidelines, it was a natural reaction to cheer for my school.

With the Gaels down 17-3 late in the first half, a great passing play led to Lauren Murray running down the sideline for the team’s first try of the game. As I watched her dash by the media tent, I couldn’t help but celebrate. I was told to relax — but how could I not get caught up in that moment?

Women’s sports often seen as lacking the same grit as men’s sports. But last weekend, captain Lauren McEwen played with a partially torn hamstring. Playing on an injury — that can take up to three months of recovery — has to be difficult. 

Being a fifth-year athlete, she knew this would be the last time she donned the tricolour, and she made every moment of her tournament worthwhile.

Despite being knocked down repeatedly and having the medics tend to her, McEwen didn’t leave any of the Gaels three games for a second. On her overtly taped right-leg, McEwen earned a tournament all-star and led Queen’s in scoring. If that isn’t grit, what is?

My future as a journalist is uncertain, and I’ve got the rest of the year to focus on other varsity sports. But one thing is for sure — I’ll still be covering the women’s rugby team next season. 

It’s only nine months until next September. I can’t wait.

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