Women's Rugby wins OUA Championship 29-24

Gaels fight Gryphons hard for a win at home 

Queen's beat the defending champions in a rematch of the 2021 OUA final.
Photo: 

It was hard to find an open seat at the Nixon field OUA Championship on Friday.

Fans packed the stands to watch the Queen's Gaels defeat the Guelph Gryphons with a final score of 29-24, capping their top-ranked season with a championship.

The Gaels received a bye for the first round of the playoffs after an incredible undefeated regular season. They defeated the Western Mustangs 90-0 on Oct. 22 in the second round but knew the reigning OUA Champion Gryphons posed a greater threat.

"[We knew] this was going to be an 80-minute battle," Gael's Centre Maggie Banks said in a post-game interview with The Journal.

“We faced them in the OUA Championship last year and didn't come out on top. We knew we didn't want to have that feeling again, that was our motivator. We knew we had to be the hardest working team; I think we were from minute 0 to minute 80, and we ended up on top because of it."

Maggie Banks has been a critical asset for the Gaels this year, recently being named Player of the Week by Queen's and USPORTS Women's Rugby athlete of the week.

Jaden Walker passes the ball away as a Gryphon takes her to the ground.Jaden Walker passes the ball away as a Gryphon takes her to the ground. Photo: Curtis Heinzl

The stands were filled with Queen's alumni visiting for Homecoming weekend. The crowd screamed, "let's go Gaels" as the first half began, and Maggie Banks scored the Gael's first try after a successful convert from OUA Player of the Year, Lizzie Gibson.

Guelph immediately retaliated by scoring two tries to go up 12-7 at the 30-minute mark. However, OUA Rookie of the Year, Maddie Donnelly and Banks, later scored tries, giving the Gaels a 21-12 lead heading into the second half.

Both Queen's and Guelph scored early in the second half, pushing the score to 26-17. Gibson had a penalty convert that extended the Gael's lead to 29-17, but the Gryphons closed the gap to 29-24 with another try later in the game.

Gaels watch in anticipation as the clock runs down to zero.  Photo: Curtis Heinzl

As the clock ran out, Queen’s fans in the crowd chanted, "start the buses" at the Guelph Gryphons. When the referee blew the final whistle, the stands erupted as the Gaels were declared OUA Champions.

Head Coach Dan Valley was happy with these results and felt his Gaels fought hard.

"We knew we needed to match them up front physically, and if we were able to do that, we knew we'd be able to eventually punch one through," Coach Valley said after the game in an interview with The Journal. "We did a really nice job of that."

After the game, the team received various awards and, of course, the OUA Championship trophy.

Gibson getting named OUA Player of the Year was the crowning moment of the celebrations. In 2019, she was the 2019 OUA and U SPORTS Rugby Rookie of the Year. Now, she sits second on the Queen's Women's Rugby's career scoring list.

Five Gaels were named OUA First Team All-Stars: Maddy Kushner, Magali Harvey, Mya Brubacher, Maggie Banks, Lizzy Gibson, and Carmen Izyk.

Jill Lynott was named an OUA Second Team All-Star.

After the OUAs, the Gaels travelled to Victoria, B.C. to compete in the national championship. On Wednesday they took their first stab at a national title and defeated the Victoria Vikes 13-10. Next, they’ll play the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Nov. 4 in the U-Sports semi-final.

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