OUA Championship streak ends at four

Gaels lose to undefeated Guelph Gryphons in penalty kicks for a silver medal finish 

Nicholas DeLallo (left) passes to Dylan Young (centre) during Sunday’s game.
Nicholas DeLallo (left) passes to Dylan Young (centre) during Sunday’s game.

In one of the longest and most intense games the league has ever seen, the 2016 men’s rugby OUA Championship went to the undefeated Guelph Gryphons, leaving a silver medal for the defending Gaels champions.  

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the Gaels hit the road and travelled to Guelph for the gold medal game. Prior to this season, the Gaels had won the past four Championships — the last two against the Gryphons in the finals.

When the whistle blew after 80 minutes of regular play, the game was tied. The teams played three additional ten-minute overtime periods, the final of which was sudden death after the first two ended in a 24-24 tie. After the sudden death period yielded no result, the game was decided with penalty kicks. 110 minutes of play and two rounds of penalty kicks later, Guelph walked away with the gold. 

“I can honestly say I’ve never played in a game that had gone that long,” Gaels captain Michael Douros said. “Physically, at that point, you’re just destroyed. It’s so draining. You could just see both teams wanted it so badly, no one was giving up.” 

Douros said that the match was one of the best games of rugby that he had ever played in, but wishes that it hadn’t ended the way it did. 

“Once it got to the penalty kicks, it didn’t really feel like rugby. I’ve never played in a game that went to penalty kicks like that. It was almost a shame that such a great game of rugby had to end with almost no rugby played, essentially,” Douros said. 

This game signifies the end of Douros’ captaincy and time playing with the Gaels. Under Douros’ leadership this season, the Gaels saw many successes. 

“Other than getting that OUA gold, it honestly couldn’t have gone any better. Even still, in that last game, it’s pretty hard to be disappointed with how the actual game, the process, went.” 

While the gold medal game result wasn’t what Douros hoped for, he still sees the 2016 season as a point of pride. “We didn’t lose the gold medal, we almost won the silver this year, I thought. The guys played out of their shoes, and really it’s only going to get better next year,” Douros said. 

Alex Colborne, who scored 41 points this year for Queen’s, described the team’s ascension through the OUA playoffs as “dramatic”. 

“We always said that if [Guelph] were going to win, they were going to really have to earn it. I think we made them earn it,” Colborne said. “I don’t think we can walk away from that game upset at ourselves, we did everything that we could do to win.” 

Going into the match, the team was prepared for a battle against the Gryphons. “The coaches can only do so much to get you hyped up and then you’ve got to find it within you. They can only say so much before you have to go out and do it for yourself.”  

Colborne agreed with Douros that it was a shame that the match ended in penalty kicks. “It was sort of anti-climactic, in a way, and a bit frustrating,” Colborne said.

However, Colborne doesn’t see the team’s actual gameplay as disappointing. “We really gave them a good game, and it could have gone either way. That’s just the nature of sport; someone’s got to win. It just happened to be them, on the day.” 

Next season will be Colborne’s final time donning the tricolour jersey, and he’s looking forward to the chance to recapture the gold. Until then, his message to his teammates is simple. 

“Hold your head up. Be proud of what we’ve done. We’ve accomplished a lot, considering. Hats off to Guelph as well, they deserved it and I’m happy for them. I’m also happy the way we did it, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”  

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