Stingers Shade Over Gaiters

Men’s Rugby Team Cashes In on Late Penalty to Advance to QSSF Final

The Stingers engage in a scrum with the Bishop’s Gaiters during their 13-12 QSSF semifinal win at Concordia Stadium on Sunday. Photo Pierre Chauvin
The Stingers erased a seven-point deficit and added one more to beat Bishop’s on Sunday. Photo Pierre Chauvin
The Stingers erased a seven-point deficit and added one more to beat Bishop’s on Sunday. Photo Pierre Chauvin

Concordia 13
Bishop’s 12

A penalty kick by Stinger Xavier Birot in the final minute of play sealed a narrow 13-12 win for Concordia against the Bishop’s Gaiters in the Quebec University men’s rugby semifinal at Loyola on Sunday.

“We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re putting ourselves in a bad position and then we have to dig ourselves out and that’s exhausting,” said Stingers head coach Clive Gibson, who was not pleased with his team’s performance. “Even if we manage to succeed, we take a lot of energy out of ourselves and we don’t have the energy to mount any offensive momentum.”

Both teams struggled to gain any ground by spinning the ball out to the wing. Time after time, the ball would emerge on the Bishop’s side to fly-half Charlie Campbell only for him to see a wall of rushing Stingers. In an attempt to slip around the Concordia defence, the Gaiters often resorted to kicking the ball.

The Stingers took a different approach on the offensive when attempting to break through the evenly-matched Bishop’s front line. Quick passes finally allowed the Concordia wings to turn on the gas in several promising runs.

A steal by Stinger Jimmy Bang allowed Jonathan Dextras-Romagnino to score the first try for Concordia, making the score 5-0.

The Gaiters managed to gain ground by capitalizing on penalties taken by Concordia, blitzing their way to the try zone. Concordia’s defence held, but the levee had to break eventually, as the Gaiter forwards repeated a smash-and-ruck tactic to let Ryan Lethbridge record a try and even the score. After adding a successful conversion, Bishop’s led 7-5 at the end of the first half.

The Stingers found themselves in a hole in the second half, battling to fend off Gaiters forwards at the try zone. Again, the line had to break as Bishop’s scored another with a missed conversion to make the score 12-5.

However, Concordia came back with a noticeable difference in play, opting for skill over brute force. Beautiful successive passes were made to keep the ball alive as Stingers were sacked by Bishop’s defenders. Dextras slipped through for a try and brought Concordia closer to evening the score, making it 12-10.

“[Bishop’s] didn’t make it easy for us. Dave [Biddle] made it easy for us. Dave took out two guys, and cleared the way for me. After that it was just a foot-race,” said Dextras. “In the beginning it was 0-0, so we were playing our own game and people started thinking they [could] do it on their own. At the end we showed that it’s about doing it as a team. We talked about it, and once that ball started moving, it really started moving.”

Birot was under a lot of pressure, having missed all conversion kicks for Concordia during the game. In the closing moments of the second half, as Bishop’s fans cheered in anticipation of a win, the ref called an intentional knock-on penalty against them. Birot took the crucial kick. It hit the post and tumbled, assuring a 13-12 Concordia victory.

Stinger Paul Bouet said he believes it was heart that produced the win for Concordia.

“I’ll have to review the tapes but it was lucky we got [the penalty kick],” said an unconvinced Gibson. “Thank God, because we missed a couple opportunities we should have had.”

Concordia will now focus on preparing for their archrivals, the McGill Redmen, in the QSSF final.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 13, published November 9, 2010.