For the second game in a row, last-minute heroics saved the day for Concordia’s men’s rugby team. A try with 60 seconds left proved to be the decider, as the Stingers clawed their way back from an injury and penalty plagued game to defeat the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 12-7.
“My feeling is that it [the victory] wasn’t worth it,” said head coach Clive Gibson, “we didn’t stick to the game plan at all and it cost us three players for the season.” Paul Bouet was taken to hospital via ambulance after sustaining a neck injury. Joining him was captain Ted McGregor who sought medical attention for his collarbone or neck. Philippe Walkden left the field with a broken wrist and a shoulder injury respectively.
The Stingers had to improvise with a patchwork of subs and starters playing in unfamiliar positions. Gibson warned, “there is lots of depth in our team but at the rate we’re losing them I don’t know how much more depth we’ll have in a couple of weeks.” He mentioned that this could be an opportunity for second-stringers to prove themselves. “There will be a lot of hard work this week, people will have to step up and take their place,” he said.
Despite the injuries, the Stingers managed to score twice in the last five minutes. Earlier in the second half, the Vert et Or scored after Concordia failed to connect on tackles and had all but fallen apart defensively.
The Stinger strike began when eight-man David Biddle picked the ball from a scrum and body slammed the Vert et Or player who tried to tackle him. He offloaded to Xavier Birot who evaded numerous tackles as he ran 50 yards to the try zone. Flyhalf Conor O’Hara added the kick to even it up at seven.
The try encouraged the Stingers, who began to play like they should have the entire game. The team was a cohesive unit and seamlessly exchanged the ball between the pack and the backs. O’Hara broke free but was tied up by the Vert et Or’s last line of defence. While keeping the flyhalf’s hands full, O’Hara passed to undefended Jonathan Dextras-Romanigno, who scored.
“The last few minutes are what seem to count for us,” commented Dextras-Romanigno. He chalked up the win to the Stinger’s physical superiority. “We don’t stop and we don’t give up. We run fitness 4-5 times a week and it shows in the last minutes,” he said.
With one minute left to play, Concordia had to maintain composure and keep their heads in the game. “All we were saying after the try is it’s not over. Just because we can score doesn’t mean they can’t,” said Dextras-Romanigno. The entire squad knew how costly one slip-up could be. Biddle joked that, “after the second try all we had to do was not screw up.”
Sherbrooke came close, but not close enough and Concordia was saved by the buzzer.
They up their record to 2-0, but have yet to face first-place McGill. “We need to play a lot better because McGill is a better team than Bishops and Sherbrooke are,” admits Biddle.
The Stingers will have home-field advantage as they play Sherbrooke again on Friday night at 8:30.