Concordia 43, Montreal 12: The Autumn Wind is a Stinger
Concordia Stingers Women’s Rugby Team Excels in Home Opener
Sunlight inundated Concordia Stadium and fans huddled in the shade cast by the stadium’s media booth before the 2019 Concordia Stingers women’s rugby home opener.
The fans watched as the Université de Montréal Carabins awaited their hosts and made their final preparations.
The Carabins won the only game that the teams played against each other last season. The game ended with a score of 31 to 17, and the Carabins finished the season fifth in Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec standings–one position ahead of Concordia.
With five minutes remaining before kickoff, the Stingers marched onto the field in a regiment of maroon and gold.
When asked about the Stinger’s pre-season expectations, returning forward Rachel Swabey discussed her team’s commitment to excellence.
“We talked a lot about not settling for good, we want to be great this season.”
The Stingers would soon test this commitment, as the crowd, split in number by allegiance, cheered while the teams lined up and a trio of referees initiated the match.
In the minutes that followed, the teams innocuously traded possessions.
Breaking the tension and inciting both cheers and gasps from the crowd, Carabins forward, Ophélia Poisson-Vecchio unleashed a thundering hit on an overmatched Stinger.
This hit, one that would typically intimidate the opposition, left no visible impression on the Stingers, and near the six minute mark of the first half, Catherine Lupien completed a scrappy 15 yard run into the right side of the Carabins in-goal area.
Lupien’s try opened the floodgates for the Stingers, and they proceeded to score 31 points and shutout the Carabins in the first half.
Entering halftime, the Carabins looked disoriented and exhausted; while the Stingers appeared prepared and poised.
For each Carabins possession, the Stingers enforced stifling defence and superior tackling that continually flattened the Carabins players to the turf.
Stingers’ Assistant Coach, Craig McDevitt, credits his team’s extended training camp for their strong play.
“We had a much longer, more intense training camp than we did last year, and I think the result really speaks to that. We were much more physically and mentally prepared and polished.”
In the second half, both teams made substitutions and eventually, the Carabins substitutes, Irene Jouam-Njuikom and Corinne Gaubyeau-Lemelin, scored two late-game tries to prevent a shutout.
The game finished 43-12 for the Stingers. Shawna Brayton and Laetitia Kofi each scored one try and curated dynamic runs. Second-year back, Olyvia Faille, scored three tries and was named the Stinger’s most valuable player.
With their win, the Stingers claim first place in RSEQ Section B rankings.
Section B is part of RSEQ’s restructured divisions for the 2019 season. The RSEQ has broken the league into two divisions: Section A and B. The weaker teams play in Section B, and the team that finishes with the best record in Section B has the opportunity to relegate the team with the worst record in Section A in a one-game playoff.
Additionally, all teams have an opportunity to play for a championship.
The Stingers’ next game is against Bishop’s University Gaiters, Sept. 8, 2019, at Concordia.
The Stingers trounced the Gaiters last season by a score of fifty to twenty-five, and one imagines that the Stinger’s confidence might undermine their focus as they prepare for their second match.
Nevertheless, Head Coach, Jocelyn Barrieau remains focused.
“I think Bishop’s are going to be a very, very big challenge this year. They have arguably the best player in the league with Erika Scott on their team,” said Barrieau.
Barrieau had plenty to say on the Gaiters’ playstyle.
“they’re big and physical. I’m honestly thankful that were playing them here first, and not there.”
Home-field advantage helped the Stingers dominate the Carabins in their home opener, and next week, the Stingers will look to remain undefeated against the Bishop’s University Gaiters.