Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Crawley
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Head coach confident Gees will thrive in competitive environment

The University of Ottawa Men’s Rugby team will get a chance to prove itself in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) against stronger competition, after years of building a solid team. The RSEQ is the league that several of the Gee-Gees varsity teams play in, including the Women’s Rugby team.

Playing in the RSEQ, the U of O will join Concordia, École de technologie supérieure, l’Université de Montreal, Sherbrooke, Bishop’s and McGill.

The move comes as U of O Sports Services is creating a new varsity clubs tier for sports teams on campus, allowing those which are not yet full varsity teams to receive more support.

According to head coach Stephanie Crawley, the team is ready for the new league. Up until now, the team had created its own league, called Scholars Rugby, where it played the development teams of other clubs. “It was all university teams playing, but they were all second and third teams,” she said.

After stacking up a good record playing the second and third teams of other schools, Crawley says the Gee-Gees team was ready to make the jump. “I think part of the reason we were successful in being promoted was our performance,” she said. “How do we improve if we’re not playing better teams?”

As for the level of competition, Crawley says she has been working to elevate the team’s competitive mindset since she came on two and half years ago. “If I’m going to coach a team, I want us to have a goal,” she said. “I think that when you’re in university and you want to play a sport, you should really be playing at a competitive level.”

She said that once the team started playing in the Scholars Rugby league, their play started improving, and more people became interested in joining.

“All of the players just got on board,” she said. “We have just an incredible amount of talent at the U of O that can play rugby.”

While varsity clubs status will allow the Men’s Rugby team to compete in the RSEQ, it doesn’t come with the financial support that accompanies full varsity, which the other teams in the league have access to, but Crawley says the team isn’t concerned. “It shouldn’t be noticeable, because we’re a large squad and we’re fairly well off,” she said.

She added the the administrative side of the team has been evolving as well. “Governance got put in place that was solid,” she said. Crawley added that the executive of the team is run by students. “With the executive in place, they got their money in order, and within one year of having executives working well, the Men’s Rugby team is putting away money every year.”

Between the stability of the team and its high level of play, Crawley thinks the team is ready to make a splash in the RSEQ right from the get go. “We’ll be a strong contender right off the bat,” she said.