Women’s Rugby dominated in Garnet & Gold Classic Tournament

Victories promise to set the tone for the season ahead 

Coach Dan Valley is excited for the upcoming season.
Credit: 
Supplied by Greg Kolz
The Queen’s Gaels Women’s Rugby team took to the pitch in Ottawa on July 17 and 19 to take on the United States U20 and U23 teams. The team was victorious in each contest, winning by scores of 76-0 and 26-5, respectively. 
 
For head coach Dan Valley, the Garnet & Gold Classic is only the beginning of a season with high expectations. Coming off a season in which the Gaels were crowned U Sports National Champions, the team has no plans to go into rebuilding mode. 
 
“The calibre of play, I think, is going to be as high, if not better this year,” Valley said in an interview with The Journal.
 
The Gaels have 17 returning players. The Garnet & Gold Classic gave an early look into how that group will mix in with the incoming group of first-year athletes. 
 
“Not only do they have those first two games under their belt; they’ve got two games against US representative sides,” Valley said.
 
The defending champion Gaels believed it was important to face some high-quality competition early on the calendar. 
 
“It gave us something to train [for] and look forward to in the summer,” Valley said.
 
After a 76-0 rout of the American U20 side, the Gaels turned their attention to the U23 squad, who posed a tougher physical test to the tricolour. After getting on the scoreboard early, the Americans held the Gaels out of the end zone for much of the first half.
 
Despite this, the Gaels dictated the pace and direction of play. 
 
“We were dominating possession and we were dominating territory in the early part of the game,” Valley said.
 
Therefore, it came as no surprise when a Jaden Walker try broke the game open two minutes into the second half. 
 
Maggie Banks found a gap in the middle of the field, drove the ball straight through the teeth of the American defence, and pitched it to a wide-open Walker. 
 
The conversion made it 19-0 which all but sealed the game.
 
The scoreboard outcomes were the result of a Gaels side that delivered on the priorities it set for itself going into the series: they aggressively defended on the oppenents’ side of the gain line, they were effective on scrums and lineouts, they were dominant in transition, and their attacking pressure was relentless. 
 
These goals were designed to put the team in situations to use its athletic advantage. 
 
“We thrive in the chaos,” Valley said. “We thrive in those messy parts of the game.”
 
The team will look to build on this success when the regular season begins. This experience was extremely valuable, providing them a tactical head start.
 
“We have always approached this as a first step in our 2022 campaign,” Valley said. “We are miles ahead.”
 
The team will now head its separate ways before training camp opens on Aug. 20. 
 
Everyone will be gearing for the team’s OUA opener on Sept. 3 against the York Lions, which will serve as the first step in the Gaels hopeful U Sports title defence.
 

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