Women's rugby wins OUA championship

Gaels' sublime performance secures first OUA banner since 2013

The new queens of OUA women’s rugby.
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One week until Nationals.
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Coach Dan Valley described the game as a "surgical ass-kicking."
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The women’s rugby program delivered on the promise of their undefeated regular season with a dominant championship performance, besting the Guelph Gryphons 46-17.

The Gryphons have been a monkey on the back of Queen’s for the better part of the last decade. Coming into their regular season matchup this year, Queen’s hadn’t beat Guelph since 2013.

The Gaels won that game in convincing fashion, but the spectre of the Gryphons’ playoff dominance loomed large—Queen’s has been eliminated by them for the past three years, twice in the provincial finals.

The pre-Homecoming audience of students and alumni were crowded into packed stands and around much of the field in hopes of witnessing captain Sophie de Goede finally accept the OUA championship trophy on behalf of Queen’s.

They weren’t disappointed. The Gaels looked to be in control from the outset, scoring first and often, and eating up large chunks of the field with every phase.

The scoring started with Celia Martensson in just the sixth minute, and Rachel Hickson followed with her own try 11 minutes later. A conversion by de Goede made the score 12-0 early.

However, Guelph wasn’t easily discouraged. The three-time defending OUA champs quickly rebutted with a try by April Wright that cut the Queen’s lead to seven.

After that, it was all Gaels. The women scored 27 unanswered points—Guelph didn’t score again until the 73rd minute, when the game was already out of reach.

Carmen Izyk, Rachel Hickson (again), OUA Female Athlete of the Week McKinley Hunt (twice), and Sophie De Goede all scored before Guelph managed to penetrate the Queen’s try zone again.

Despite their growing lead, the Gaels never lapsed into a passive play style, instead preventing the Gryphons offence from getting rolling by chewing up lots of yards and minutes with their own formidable attacks.

Time ran out, the ball was booted out of bounds and the final whistle shrilled. Some of the Gaels were visibly overcome by the magnitude of the moment as they mobbed each other, finally having vindicated their last three playoff loses to Guelph.

The women go into November’s U SPORTS National Championships, to be held at Ottawa, ranked first in the country. They’re averaging 81.8 points scored per game, the most in the country, and 7.7 points against per game, the third-least in the country.

Seasoned by seasons of coming close, this Gaels squad is well-positioned to take a real run at the National Championship.

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