Sports

Despite a relatively strong defensive game for the Rouge-et-Or, they were no match for the high-flying Gee-Gees. Photo: Courtesy of Greg Mason.

McCallan, Babcock and Karwowski go five-for-five in RSEQ championship with Coach Boyd

Under the lights at Matt Anthony Field, the Gee-Gees women’s rugby team claimed their fifth consecutive Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) banner with a 40-19 win over the Laval Rouge et Or.

“It’s so amazing to know that every time I have stepped on this field, no matter the team I’ve been playing with, no matter what girls, we continue to build the legacy that we have,” Gee-Gees scrum-half Erin McCallan said. “I think that the fact that we are five-time champions really just proves that we keep getting better.”

McCallan, along with fellow fifth-years Emily Babcock and Paulina Karwowski, have gone five- for-five under head coach Jen Boyd when it comes to RSEQ championships.

“We have a lot of first-years who dressed this game,” Boyd said. “I told them: watch the leaders tonight, watch the older girls and how they’ll perform. You’ve never seen them play until you see those girls play in a championship game.”

Gee-Gees first half scoring came from a penalty try, both a great grab off a deflected kick in Laval’s end, and a dive across the goal line from Tori Wyman, who was one of nine Gee-Gees selected as RSEQ all-stars. This made the score 26-12 at the halfway point for the Garnet and Grey.

“We were feeling really good at halftime.” McCallan said. “Everyone in the change room was just excited to get back on the field honestly. We just couldn’t wait to get back out there and put some more points on them.”

The Gees came out hot to start off the second half. Third-year wing Alexandra Ondo drove it in to make it 33-12.

“When we started doing really well in our scrums and started driving them back, I think that’s when us as forwards came together, and were like ‘we are the dominant pack here,’” Karwowski said. “That’s when the backs were also connecting with us and I think that’s where we saw our success.”

Laval would score a try of its own to close the gap, making it 33-19 for the Gees.

Despite their late effort, it was far too late. A final penalty try from the U of O marked the death knell for the Rouge-et-Or’s season, making the final score 40-19 for the defending champs.

“To be honest, it still feels just as great.” Karwowski said, comparing the win to her four previous conference championships. “It feels just as exciting, like I still get those butterflies before the game.”

“It’s an incredible feeling just seeing throughout the years how much we’ve improved, the strength of the new recruits coming in, and just how much work we put in and seeing that reflect in our results over the past five years.”

Next, the Gee-Gees will be competing in the U Sports National Championships Nov. 1-4 at Acadia University. The team is going into the tournament with the first seed and looking to hoist the championship banner once again.

“It’s like a war when you go, it’s a different kind of mindset,” Babcock said. “Whether it’s the first game, second, everything, it can go either way. You step on the field and you have to play the best game possible, and then the next game you have to come back even tougher.”