Three Stingers Players Named to RSEQ All-Star Women’s Rugby Team
Frédérique Rajotte, Alexandra Tessier and Jenna Thompson Earned this Years All-Star Honours
It’s rare to have two players who play the same position named to an all-star team, let alone three.
This is what happened to the Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team. Centres Alexandra Tessier and Frédérique Rajotte, along with forward Jenna Thompson, were named to this year’s Réseau Sport Étudiant du Québec all-star team on Friday, Oct 21.
Like most people, they found out about the news through social media.
“We were scrolling through our news feed and it’s like ‘Oh, the Stingers posted about us—did you know?’” said Rajotte, laughing.
This was the second time in a row that Rajotte received this accolade. The fourth-year centre was the team’s third leading scorer with 11 tries in seven games for a total of 55 points.
Tessier, who is also in her fourth-year, has been an all-star three times now. She scored two tries and three conversions in seven games for 16 points this season. She was also named rookie of the year in 2013. The feeling of being named all-star never gets old for the mathematics and statistics major, who was also named to the 2014 and 2015 all-star teams.
“It’s always a good feeling, when you put in the work and you get recognized,” Tessier said.
Her teammate and third-year forward Thompson led the Stingers with 60 points and placed fifth in points amongst all players in the RSEQ. This was her first time being nominated to the RSEQ’s elite.
“To be placed in the same category as Fred and Tess, who are known on the national scale, it was kind of shocking,” she said. “I’m extremely honoured to be a part of that.”
The timing of it couldn’t be better. The civil-engineering student is coming back from an injury-plagued season in which she tore her shoulder last November. She underwent surgery, keeping her out of the game and preventing her from training for most of 2015.
This year hasn’t been without its obstacles either. In June, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and has been taping it before every game ever since.
“I just came back from a six-month long hard recovery [from the shoulder injury] and I was like well with this torn ACL, I would almost need to go into surgery again. And that’s another six-month recovery,” said Thompson. “I don’t want to do that again, I can’t do that again,” she added.
Tessier and Rajotte were impressed with Thompson’s perseverance in the face of adversity.
“I’m happy for her, she’s back on track,” said Tessier. “She’s getting closer to being an elite player.”
“She’s a badass, that’s for sure,” followed Rajotte.
Concordia’s rugby program has consistently produced quality players for the past decade. The women’s team has made ten consecutive RSEQ finals. They were crowned champions in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
When asked to talk about what makes this Stingers team so special, both Tessier and Rajotte had a hard time finding one reason. They believe the overall team spirit and familial atmosphere of the group helps them work well together and win.
“If I think back to my first year, it was probably one of my best years,” said Tessier. “I got to this team, and […] I felt part of it, it was a really inclusive group. It is a Stingers family really.”
Rajotte added that alumni played an important role in fostering a team spirit that carried over into later versions of the team.
“I think the girls, prior to coming here really set the team culture up and set that team culture to winning, which is great that we were able to keep it up,” said the communications major.
Players like Jackie Titley, who captured the RSEQ championship in 2009, 2010 and 2012, as well as four-time all-star Hughanna Gaw, inspired Rajotte to improve as a player.
“I was really looking up to them and I was in awe,” she said. “I was like: ‘I wanna become that person, that leader.’”
The legacy left by past players clearly still resonates with this edition of the team. Thompson felt that the team was “plateauing.” The addition of assistant head coach François Ratier helped bring another dimension to the Stingers game this season.
“Our game plans didn’t work from when they did six years ago so Francois came in and he changed a lot of things,” she explained. “And it was better suited for our team right now, this year.”
Thompson, along with Tessier and Rajotte, mentioned that multiple fifth-year players were graduating from Concordia by the end of the year, so there was an added sense of urgency and desire to win the RSEQ championship. Unfortunately, the Stingers lost 29-19 in the finals to the undefeated Ottawa GeeGees this past Saturday.
“Ottawa has always been an extremely difficult opponent both in their physicality and mental toughness, I think they were just more mentally prepared than we were,” said Thompson. “I still believe we are the better team despite the two losses we’ve come away with against them this season.”
That’s the kind of confidence the Stingers will be counting on moving into the U Sports national championship, which takes place at the University of Victoria from Nov. 3 to 6. This will be the team’s last chance to win some hardware and make the season even more memorable.
“We earned out berth to nationals and we definitely deserve to be there competing with the top teams in the country,” Thompson said. “We’ve proven how good we are time and time again, so now we’re just going to have to find a way to translate our success into the minds and the hearts of our players.”