Concordia 56, McGill 0: Stingers Women’s Rugby Continues Intracity Dominance

The Concordia Stingers Women’s Rugby Team Advances to Quarterfinals Cruising Past the Martlets

Last Sunday’s player of the week Mercedes Martino tries to shovel a pass despite fallen McGill defender Photo Esteban Cuevas

Sitting in the north-west bleachers in McGill University’s Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, one observes the towering buildings of downtown Montreal.

Concordia University is not visible from this vantage, yet in their final game of the 2019 season, the Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team claimed the stadium as their own and cemented their position as the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec Section B champions.

Entering the game, the Stingers enjoyed a 5-0 record, including a 74-0 win last week against the same McGill Martlets at the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup. Except for a thrilling match against the Université de Montréal Carabins, the Stingers completely outclassed their competition throughout the season.

The Martlets, however, struggled for large parts of the season and entered the game with a 1-4 record.

According to first-year Martlet, Lauren Drummond, “we’re not the best team in the league. . . . I think one thing we do have is a very strong relationship. We do a lot of social activities and we’ll have team bonding, so I think McGill rugby is more of a family.”

The Stingers tested Drummond’s resolve and the Martlets’ bond throughout the game.

After a physical start, and nearly five minutes into the first half, the Stingers took possession near midfield and worked the ball towards the Martlet in-goal area.

The Martlets stifled the Stingers’ first attempts to score, but the Stingers efficiently swung the ball to rookie fullback, Mahalia Robinson.

Robinson charged towards the Martlet goal line and, using her burgeoning decision-making skills, passed the ball to Olyvia Faille, who scored the first points of the game.

After the try, Stingers’ all-star Shawna Brayton lined up for a difficult conversion on the right side of the field.

Brayton missed.

The missed conversion invigorated Brayton, and on the following possession, she took hold of the ball and rocketed on an enduring sprint that left both Martlets and Stingers unable to match her speed.

Brayton ran for nearly 55 meters and scored the Stingers’ second try of the game.

Before the thirty-fourth minute of the first half, McGill’s Drummond, who had torn her oblique one week earlier, carried the ball down the left side of the field.

Third-year Stinger Laetitia Royer stalked Drummond, and with expert timing and violent ferocity, Royer drove her shoulder into Drummond’s ribs.

Royer’s momentum catapulted her over Drummond as they contacted the ground, and in Allen Iverson-like fashion, Royer stepped over Drummond.

Drummond remained on the turf for several minutes as fans and players hypothesized her injury.

Eventually, Drummond rose to her feet and stretched her obliques before joining her teammates in the following scrum–not missing a second of the action.

Drummond’s toughness impressed those in attendance, and her mentality reveals her resolve.

“I think the thing with rugby is that any injury doesn’t matter. . . . why would I just stop playing because of a hit? Like, no. I’m going to keep on going and show them why they shouldn’t hit me again. That’s just something that I always go for. Whenever I’m down, I’m like no, you’re not sitting down,” said Drummond.

Not surprisingly, Drummond’s intensity increased after the hit, and she matched the Stingers’ physicality.

Jasmine Baxter, the Stingers’ second-year back, mirrored Drummond’s intensity.

Jasmine Baxter hands off no look pass while being swarmed by four McGill players Photo Esteban Cuevas

Baxter’s speed intimidates her opponents. She initiates her attack while the ball is high in the air and as her opponents wait for the ball, Baxter jets toward them.

Discussing her ferocity, Baxter exclaims, “I think I’m pretty fast . . . my strength is my speed, so I kind of use that in every aspect that I can.”

Late in the game, and midway into Martlet territory, Baxter kicked the ball over a line of Martlet defenders and attempted to zip past her adversaries to collect the ball.

The Martlets eventually recovered, but Baxter continually found ways to use her speed to her advantage.

The Stingers’ offensive barrage was the story of the game. Their’ superior size, strength, and tackling techniques intensified the Martlets’ distress—deflating their opponents and scoring 56 unanswered points.

When asked about the Stingers struggles, Head Coach, Jocelyn Barrieau suggests, “consistency, so we do great things, and then maybe make some not so great decisions.”

The Stingers will now look to improve their consistency against the Carleton Ravens on October 11, 2019. The winner of the game moves on to the RSEQ playoffs and plays next season in Section A.

The Ravens have lost all of their games this season, and one imagines that complacency might affect the undefeated Stingers, yet second-year forward Mélissa Joly suggests, “it’s a big thing with us, you know, respect our opponents. We prepare the same way for every game, so we do the same routine every week.”

Joly’s play will also impact the game. Her role has increased over the season, and her confidence is growing.

When comparing her play from the beginning of the season to the end, Joly states, “I am involved in more breakdowns. I ask for the ball more, and I guess, in general, I’m more involved.”

Should the Stingers find success against the Ravens, they will require strong play from the entire team, and players such as Joly, who are assuming larger roles on the team.

In a previous version of this article, the Carleton Ravens game was scheduled for October 10, 2019 not October 11, 2019. The Martlets’ record was also listed as 1-5 instead of 1-4. The Link regrets these errors.