Stingers Women’s Rugby Cap Off Perfect Season with 77-0 Win
The gameplan was simple: run, hit, score and win to stay perfect.
And the Stingers women’s rugby team did just that last Thursday, overwhelming the last-place Bishop’s Gaiters 77-0 in their season finale at Concordia Stadium.
The win gave the Collegiate Interuniversity Sport nationally third-ranked team a flawless 7-0 regular season record and the top spot in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec Conference standings.
“So far so good,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie. “Though our idea of a perfect season is winning all the season games and playoffs too.”
Thursday night’s contest was over early, with the Maroon and Gold cruising to a commanding 28-0 lead midway through the first half.
Fourth-year flanker Cara Stuckey led the team with 15 points on three tries en route to the game’s MVP honour for Concordia.
In contrast to the Stingers, the Gaiters ended their season winless, only scoring five points all year—and giving up 526.
At halftime the Stingers were running away with it 45-0, with Bishop’s looking exhausted. Nothing worked for the Gaiters, who simply couldn’t keep up as Concordia went on to add 32 second-half points to seal the victory.
Second-year Stingers fullback Sandra Hudson was solid in her cleats, successfully earning six conversions and finishing the tilt with 12 points. Three of the other Stingers— Emily Hickson, Laura Pollice and Alexandra Tessier—were equally dominant, each completing two tries for 10 points apiece.
Hickson and Tessier also happen to be rookies on McGravie’s squad, and he’s proud of what he sees in the youngsters.
“We have a strong core group of players up and down the lineup,” said McGravie. “Last year we were underdogs, and now this year we came out strong and continued all season.”
Tessier was pleased with the team’s effort.
“I think we did well, we were very good at executing our plays,” she said.
“We ended on a very good note.”
Absent from the turf on Thursday was the veteran presence of Hughanna Gaw, who sat the game out to be well rested for the playoffs.
Gaw, who missed the entire 2012 season recovering from knee surgery, will be in full-force, ready-to-go mode come the semifinals.
“It really feels great, and it’s reminiscent of the last time we had a perfect season and went to the finals at nationals,” said Gaw. “I would really love to get to do that again.”
The last time the Stingers finished the season with a perfect record, in 2010, the team reached the National Championship but couldn’t bring the title home, dropping the gold medal game 17-12 in overtime to the St. Francis Xavier X-Women.
The Stingers missed out on nationals in the ensuing season, but returned in 2012 after edging out the Laval Rouge et Or 35-34 at Telus-UL Stadium in last season’s conference final.
With home-field advantage throughout the provincial playoffs as a result of finishing atop the conference standings this season, the road back to the National Championship may be an easier task this time around: the Stingers outscored opponents a whopping 173-10 in their three games at Concordia Stadium this year.
“We will enjoy [playing at home] that’s for sure, but we don’t let the road games bother us,” said McGravie.
“However, it does feel nice to sleep in your own bed the night before.”
Getting to perfection wasn’t a breeze for the Stingers.
After blowing out the Carleton Ravens 51-7 in the season opener, the team beat Laval and McGill University by only a combined 34-20. In their fourth game of the season, against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, the Stingers were down early before coming back to escape with a 27-15 victory.
“Being down by 10 to Sherbrooke in the first five minutes wasn’t easy,” said McGravie.
“We saw a lull that week and knew we had to be better. We addressed it and then had a very convincing win [62-17] over Ottawa the following week.”
It’s the kind of resilience that has McGravie confident his team can bring home its first-ever National Championship.
“This year we have the target on our back,” said a smiling McGravie.
“We’re pretty comfortable so far. This year, it’s more ours to lose rather than ours to win.”
The Stingers will take on fourth-place Laval in the provincial semifinals at Concordia Stadium. The date and time of the game have yet to be determined.