Concordia 35, ETS 7: Stingers Win RSEQ Men’s Rugby Championship
Team Caps Off Perfect Season With Victory Over ETS Piranhas
The Stingers men’s rugby team may be the most successful Concordia athletics story in a while, managing a complete turnaround from last season’s less than stellar 1-6 record.
Sunday afternoon, the squad took on the École de Technologie Supérieure Piranhas in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec men’s rugby final. The game marks the end of a perfect run for the Stingers, who managed to sweep the league, going 7-0 through the regular season.
The game opened with ETS successfully converting a penalty kick, or so it seemed. Shortly after, Concordia scored off their own penalty kick and ETS’s three points disappeared from the scoreboard, never to return again.
According to Concordia head coach Craig Beemer, the reason for the technical mishap was that the kick was missed, but the scorekeeper misunderstood and put it on the board.
Concordia scored off of yet another penalty kick, putting them up 6-0 over the Piranhas.
The penalty kicks couldn’t go on forever, though, and the Stingers were the first to score a try. Centre Sam Montmigny saw some open space and fullback Jonathan Banks converted, combining to earn Concordia seven more points. At that point, the Stingers were up 13-0.
Despite steady scoring, the real excitement was in the dynamic on the field. Tensions ran high throughout the game, with small brawls regularly erupting and yellow cards being dealt to each team.
“The last three games, we played for each other, and we basically cut out all the cards,” said Stingers’ head coach Craig Beemer. “This was a big game, big moment, and they were warranted calls, but I don’t think they were too much of an issue.”
The Stingers went into the second half up 21-0, after a second try and an additional penalty kick.
Hitting the field for the second half, veteran fly half Moritz Wittman scored Concordia’s third try of the night mere moments into the half. Fullback Jonathan Banks converted to make the score 28-0 for Concordia.
The Stingers were clearly dominating the pitch this afternoon, having a clear idea of how to beat out their opponent. By then, they were cruising and had the RSEQ trophy well within their sights.
“They knew we wanted to play a game of width, and they knew they needed to slow down the breakdown,” said Beemer. “I think through the first 20 minutes they were successful, but once we actually moved the ball wide and got it out into the outside channels we had a lot of success, which was part of the game plan.”
Despite excellent defense on the Concordia tryline, ETS was able to score one single try right in the middle of the second half. They had been knocking on the door for a solid five minutes before they finally managed to close, shortening the Stingers lead to 28-7.
Concordia would cross the try line two more times before the end of the game, including one by Banks that was called back because of an obstruction penalty.
“It didn’t matter to me, and I don’t think it mattered to [Jonathan] Banks, either,” said Beemer.The game ended 35-7 in favour of the Stingers, a momentous victory considering the journey the team has been on since last season.
“It’s tough to put to words,” said newly appointed athletic director D’Arcy Ryan, a former Concordia men’s rugby player. “They put a lot of work and effort into training this offseason, and they really worked together and gelled as a team. It’s probably one of the best teams that Concordia men’s rugby has seen ever.”
The team is proud of the results they’ve seen this season, especially given past records, and it was evident on everyone’s faces after the game. The level of excitement was high.
“It’s amazing,” said Banks. “To blow out every team [after last season] was awesome, and to put up this many points in the final was incredible.”
Banks feels that the team’s ball control was at play in them being to score so easily.
“When we were smart with the ball they couldn’t stop us,” he said.
With the championship in hand, the team can now look forward to next weekend’s national tournament, held in Guelph, Ontario. There, the Stingers will face the best collegiate teams from across the country. They’re in for some tough competition, and Beemer is hopeful, but not unaware of what they may face.
“We’re going to have to play our best game to compete out there,” he said. “The teams from out west are very strong, that’s where our national program is based and so it’ll be tough, but we still have another week to prepare. Hopefully the weather stays on our side here in Montreal.”