Women’s rugby advances to OUA championship

Win over McMaster takes Gaels to OUA Final, U Sports national championships

Queen's women's rugby team triumphed over McMaster 29-24 in the OUA semi-final on Saturday.
The Gaels triumphed over McMaster 29-24 in the OUA semi-final on Saturday.

After a 29-24 OUA semi-final win over the McMaster Marauders on Saturday, women’s rugby secured a spot in the OUA final next weekend.

In a repeat of last year’s OUA semi-final against McMaster—which Queen’s won 20-15—the Gaels came out on top once again. This time around, however, the Marauders went down with a fight—something Queen’s head coach Dan Valley expected going into the game.

“They’ve got a really talented group of fifth-year players that show up to play everyday,” Valley told The Journal about McMaster. “They’ve played in the world cup, so we knew what we were getting into.”

“We did the job that we needed to do in the sense that we were off the line and in their face, we defended wonderfully [and] were very resilient.”

The win, along with a spot in the OUA championship, secured the Gaels a place at the U Sports national championships, hosted by Acadia in Wolfville, N.S., from Nov. 1-4.

The Marauders, who were 2-2 in the regular season, were never able to gain the upper hand over the Gaels on Saturday. After two tries by fourth-year Nadia Popov, the Gaels led comfortably 17-7 at halftime.

With four different Gaels putting up tries throughout the match, Valley said the win was a “total team effort.”

While the match tightened toward the end, Queen’s lead was too great for McMaster.

At the final whistle, and with a win confirmed, Gaels players stormed the field in front of a packed home crowd at Nixon Field.

“This time of year, you don’t get those sorts of results against squads like that,” Valley said. “There were a lot of very hard, very gritty performances out of [that game], so you can’t ask for much more.”

Second-year wing Rachel Hickson noted the physicality of the opposing team is the biggest challenge for the Gaels.

“They’re great competition and obviously there was back and forth,” she said. “It was a continuous fight the whole time to play our best game and to match them.”

At the OUA championships, the Gaels will face the undefeated Guelph Gryphons in a rematch of last year’s final, which Queen’s lost 43-17.

To view our Game in Photos gallery, click here.

In the teams’ earlier meeting this season, the Gryphons gave Queen’s their only regular season loss in a tight 39-34 result on Nixon. The Gaels haven’t beaten Guelph since 2013, and the final will bring a chance for redemption—along with a taste of OUA gold.

Hickson said the Gaels have been growing in their defensive work, especially against larger teams, and she’s excited to see what the team can do next Saturday.

“I’d say our forwards have come a long, long way in managing our defensive structure and our line speed,” Hickson said. “We’re more connected and more able to be resilient against these teams that are so tough and just come at you over and over again.”

“[Guelph’s] a very physical team, so it’s exciting to get the chance to match up against them again.”

Hickson said if the Gaels keep rolling the way they have been, they’ll have a shot at an OUA banner.

“Performing the way we did against [McMaster], I’m confident in our ability to come out and perform in a similar way against Guelph,” she said.

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