Men's rugby going for gold in OUA final

Gaels beat Waterloo 59-16, look for 24th Turner Trophy

The men’s rugby team is currently riding a 19-game win-streak.
The men’s rugby team is currently riding a 19-game win-streak.

The Waterloo Warriors gave the men’s rugby team everything they had on Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to top the only undefeated squad left in the province. The Gaels trumped Waterloo 59-16 in the OUA semi-final for their ninth win of the year.

The Warriors started the match strong, taking an early 9-0 lead—the most the Gaels had trailed in any game this season. But even in what head coach Dave Butcher called Waterloo’s best game of the season, he noted his team’s confidence never wavered. 

“The team maintains the belief that they can win every single match, so we made mistakes and let points down, but there was absolutely no panic,” Butcher told The Journal about the Gaels’ resilience. “I don’t think there’s a match we can’t win. I know that sounds arrogant.”

The second-year coach isn’t wrong. With a 19-game win-streak, there’s reason to believe the Gaels can win in every game they play—even the smallest or biggest mistakes seem salvageable.

By half-time in Saturday’s game, Queen’s bounced back from their early deficit and led 19-9.

“We knew that if we kept playing then we would eventually start scoring tries,” Butcher said. “We spent a lot of time in their half building up pressure.”

There were some errors where the Gaels tried to force plays, he added.

“We left 20 points on the pitch that we should have executed. We just have to make sure we don’t leave any points on the pitch and get those 20 points next weekend.”

Butcher has preached this philosophy to his players all season: focus on executing specific plays and matchups and let results speak for themselves.

With their win over Waterloo, the Gaels are set to host the OUA Championship final against the Guelph Gryphons at Nixon Field on Sunday. The two teams have played in the last four finals, and five of the last six.

In 2016-17, Queen’s saw their four year championship streak cut short after Guelph beat them 25-24 in a heartbreaking finals matchup decided by penalty kicks. 

In last season’s final matchup, the Gaels dominated Guelph 62-17. The win brought them their 23rd Turner Trophy—more than any other Ontarian team in league history.

One version of the rivalry’s history will be repeated on Sunday—the question is just a matter of which.

Earlier this season, the Gaels were victorious over Guelph in a 40-13 away win. It was the only match the Gryphons lost this year.

With two consecutive undefeated seasons under their belts, Butcher isn’t worried about the inevitable pressures that come with an OUA finals matchup.

“We want to get the results, but we’re very confident—we know what we have to do,” Butcher said.


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