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photo by Jackson Lewchuk

Women’s rugby team defeats Sherbrooke in 19-0 field battle

“TOUCH, PAUSE, ENGAGE,” the referee yelled as the athletes struggled in the scrum. Little did he know he had described the game with those three simple words. Despite the rain, the University of Ottawa’s women’s rugby team played full strength on Oct. 2, pushing the Sherbrooke Vert et Or back and forth down Matt Anthony Field, eventually winning the game 19-0.

The game began with the teams feeling each other out, edging cautiously into the scrum.The atmosphere changed at the 10-minute mark, with the Gees actively driving for possession of the ball.

They were unable to gather enough speed to push it into Sherbrooke’s territory.  Five minutes later, the Garnet and Grey engaged the field a second time, pushing through the scrum for a try by third-year centre and winger Natasha Watcham-Roy with third-year back row Amber Stoffer making the convert.

“[The team had] great moments of teamwork,” said head coach Suzanne Chaulk after the game. “I think our tries were good examples of that. That is what makes me happy: The fact that we scored as a result of good teamwork—and that’s the only thing that is going to beat McGill.”

The Gees were able to hold off their opposition for most of the first half, protecting their goal line, while Sherbrooke inched closer and closer to the five-yard line. The Vert et Or managed to score a try only to be pushed back due to a penalty, resulting in a score of 7-0 by halftime.

The second half of the game was full of quick turnovers by both teams as each squad struggled to maintain control over the field. In the last five minutes, Stoffer broke free of the scrum and captured a large chunk of Sherbrooke territory for the Gees. Rookie winger Irene Patrinos scored two consecutive tries with assists from first-year centre Ashley Strike and fifth-year second row Hayley McKee.

“I think the game went really well,” said Watcham-Roy. “We worked on a lot this week, especially execution … in the end, we pulled it together.”

Chaulk agreed that the team’s execution had improved since their last game against Concordia, which they lost 39-5, but that their organization was still lacking.

“Everyone was doing the right stuff, just not always together and in the right order,” she said. “So the organization is still in need of some work, but the other stuff­—the energy level, the activation, the working hard­—that’s harder to learn.”

“I’m happy because that’s the key part. The organization is easy to work on—it’s just a matter of how much time we have to do that.”

The women’s rugby team is now tied with McGill, who they will face Oct. 7 for third place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec league. Despite McGill’s competitive nature, the Gees aren’t concerned.

“At the end of this game, we proved that we can compete against a team like McGill,” said Watcham-Roy. “We were passing the ball more and making the tries we needed. We are excited for McGill, and we are getting better.”

The Gees (2-2) will battle it out for third place on Oct. 7 at Matt Anthony Field against the McGill Martlets (2-2) at 7 p.m.

—Katherine DeClerq