Men’s Rugby Preview: Reigning Champions Looking For More
Stingers Seek to Repeat as RSEQ Champions
On a hot September morning, head coach Clive Gibson is giving his directives on a number of different drills. It has now been five days that the Concordia Stingers men’s rugby program have returned to camp after winning the RSEQ championship last season. In addition to the beautiful weather, an aura of sheer optimism is floating in the humid air.
“Last year we kinda came in telling ourselves what can we do to get on top and then now it’s more like what can we change to make our dynasty and not worry about McGill,” said team captain Andreas Krawczyk. “We need to worry about Concordia and about what we can do, how we can be the best team in the league. It makes us want to work harder.”
The word dynasty is often a scary word to use but the optimism around the team seemed to be made of steel. No one hides their intentions to push for the second repeat in school history and after having lost four finals in a row from 2010 to 2013, the Maroon and Gold rekindled their intentions of winning championships.
Gibson coached the only other Stinger team to repeat in 1999 and 2000, which also was the RSEQ’s second ever three-peat at the time in 2001, and he enters the season optimistic that he can repeat again. The coach responsible for all six of Concordia’s RSEQ championships has high hopes for the 2015 edition of his team.
“I think there is a good chance of this team repeating, I think there is a great deal of talent,” said Gibson. “I’m highly optimistic, I think it’s the best group of players I’ve ever had at camp.”
As university teams are constantly subject to player movements, changes of captain is something that happens fairly often. For the upcoming season, the honour went to third year flanker Andreas Krawczyk who was humbled by the team’s decision: “I’m very honoured to be named as captain. I had a great few seasons, I’m pumped to have this role, I’m pumped to lead this group of guys and I’m speechless.”
The bearded leader did not hesitate to mention that rookies have been adapting nicely to the club and some even stepped up to become leaders on the team. According to Krawczyk, one of the rookies to keep an eye on this season is Charles Debove.
“It’s a huge, huge honour to play with Charles Debove, one of the rookies,” said Krawczyk. “He is a phenomenal asset to our team, he’s ready to take on a leadership role and he’s taking in some of the players that may not have the best skills. He’s taking them in and showing them how to pass and tackle.”
“Last year we kinda came in telling ourselves what can we do to get on top and then now it’s more like what can we change to make our dynasty and not worry about McGill,” said team captain Andreas Krawczyk.
Another rookie on the team, Alex Elali, has had the ride of his life switching from soccer to rugby this year: “It’s a lot more upper body strength, something I don’t think I was ready for. Lower body, I think I’m good. I’m just getting used to all this upper body physical work. I’m pretty good, I’m keeping up and it’s fun.”
Switching also means to get used to different instincts and a different feel for the game. Elali found his method to soak in a lot of rugby in little time.
“I tried watching a ton of videos. I think that videos is what helps the most and I’m not gonna lie, most of the veterans, are helping me out a lot coaching me as I go,” said Elali. “It’s my fourth day playing rugby in my life and the veterans have been nothing but nice, they’ve been helping me out like crazy and I just keep learning.”
There will be a change in the RSEQ rugby league system as a new team has been added to the mix, the Piranhas of École de technologie supérieure. Gibson stresses that with this change, games played within the Stingers’ pool will be of high importance.
“The four games in your own pool become absolutely imperative to have success in order to finish first and get the quarter-final off. Those four games are must wins,” said Gibson. “We obviously want to win in the other pool as well but it’s of less importance because if you can win four games in your own pool, you win one in the other pool and you are in first place, that’s the math of it.”
The Stingers will open their season on September 13th at 3 PM where they will host the Bishop’s Gaiters at Concordia Stadium.