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photo by Colette Joubarne

Women’s rugby loses 39-5 in crushing defeat to Stingers

THE UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa women’s rugby team (1-2) marched on to Matt Anthony Field to the sound of cheering fans for their first home game of the regular season  Sept. 25. But the erupting applause was interrupted by the Concordia Stingers’ (2-1) speed and resilience, which the Gees defensive skills could not match. The Garnet and Grey suffered a crumbling defeat of 39-5 to the currently fifth nationally ranked team in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports league.

“They were playing like individuals,” said head coach Suzanne Chaulk. “Rugby is one of the most demanding sports out there because it requires 15 people working together all the time. They were playing hard—I can’t complain about the work rate—but they weren’t doing it together.”

The Gees had a hard time getting out of their end with the Stingers continuously pushing forward on the offensive. Third-year centre and winger Natasha Watcham-Roy ran straight through the Stingers’ line to bring the play into Concordia’s territory to no avail. With little opportunity to get the ball out of the rucks, the Gees were at a standstill, and the first half finished with a 22-0 lead for Concordia.

The second half saw the Gees slowly build momentum, passing the ball before each sack, keeping it in play. Third-year hooker Amy Lewis was able to break through the defensive line for a try. Concordia retaliated with another try and a conversion to bring the score to 39-5 by the final bell.

“It always surprises me that [the squad] gets intimidated by teams like Concordia,” said Chaulk of the defeat. “Yet they can compete with them. They play defence rather than offence. So we wait for Concordia to pick up the ball and then attack them, rather than just attacking them [first].”

Fourth-year captain and fullbacker Sarah Meng agreed that the team needs to take more control on the field.

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We need to transfer what we do in practice onto the field, because there is no question that we have the skill to do it. The players on the team are top players—we just need to transfer it [into the game].”

The Gees lost to Concordia last year in the semifinal round of the regular season, and have since been unable to beat the aggressive Stingers. Meng explained that although they’ve lost to Concordia, they went into the game with a winning mentality.

“Last year we were beating them the whole game with two minutes left, and they were second in the country. I know that coming into this game, all of us who have played them before truly believe we can beat them. I think we just got into a rut and couldn’t get out,” she said.

The Garnet and Grey will be playing the University of Sherbrooke on Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Matt Anthony Field.

—Katherine DeClerq