Queen’s Women’s Rugby wins 2021 U Sports Championship

Defeating the Gee-Gees 26-18, the Gaels hoisted their first Monilex Trophy in program history on Sunday

The women's rugby team, pictured after their win.
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Befitting its name, Queen’s now inhabits a monarchical position over Canada’s varsity women’s rugby.

That is, they do after last Sunday, when they beat the uOttawa Gee-Gees 28-16 to win the U Sports National Championship.

“We’ve had this on our bulletin board for two years,” head coach Dan Valley said in an interview with The Journal following Sunday’s contest.

“I think it’s really special that we were able to put this incredibly lofty ambition at the top of our bulletin board and wake up every day and know that that was something we collectively wanted to go out and achieve.”

Coming into the final bracket of play after dropping two of the top-three nationally ranked teams in the country in rounds one and two—the no. 1 UBC Thunderbirds first and no. 3 Laval Rouge et Or second—the Gaels were the favourites arriving into Sunday’s fixture against the uOttawa Gee-Gees, but the game was anything but a shoe-in when play started.

At halftime, the score was tied 15-15.

Thankfully, however, after a try by fullback Jaden Walker in minute 49 and two penalty converts by Sophie de Goede, Queen’s staved off the Gee-Gees long enough for them to close out the match ahead.

De Goede, who also had a try during the game, won tournament MVP after the win. Last week, she was named U Sports Player of the Year.

Speaking to her role on the team, Valley stated de Goede is in a class of her own.

“I don’t think Queen’s will [ever] see another athlete like Sophie de Goede,” he said.

“This year was unbelievable […] she was just on a whole other level.”

While rightfully paying homage to de Goede, Valley was also adamant in emphasizing that the team’s success was a top-to-bottom effort. The dedication put in by every player on the team—as well as the members of the coaching staff—is what made their historic achievement a possibility, and ultimately, a reality.

“There are too many people to name in one article,” he said.

Nevertheless, Valley expressed his immense gratitude for everyone on the roster, coaching staff, and those at Queen’s athletics. He feels the support he has been given since joining the team five years ago has been unparalleled.

Looking forward to next year, Valley said he and the team have always known that with being at the top comes expectations. According to him, however, they aren’t worried one bit.

“I think people are acutely aware of the work that it took to get us to this place,” he said. “I think they’re going to be equally, if not more hungry, to keep us [here].”

“We are the best program in the country, and we are going to do everything we can to remain there.”

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