The Concordia men’s rugby team were delivered their first loss of the season on Friday night 18-6 at the hands of last year’s champions, the McGill Redmen.
Despite the score, it was the best effort that the men’s side had put together against their biggest rival in years. “McGill is always a rival, we’re both from Montreal so we hate each other, of course it’s going to be a big game,” said head coach Clive Gibson.
Concordia started out strong and marched deep into McGill territory. The Stingers won almost every ruck and Daniel Thomassin and Matt Held were often the first to jump in to keep possession. It was clear that the team had learned from their last game against Bishop’s, as instead of trying to pick up loose balls, they dove on them to ensure they maintained possession it. “We played a lot better than last week,” said Gibson, “even though we won last week and lost tonight, it was an improvement.”
Big hits were being thrown on both sides and every ball in lineouts and rucks was fought for.
The Stingers were first on the board as Xavier Birot completed a 40-yard penalty kick to make it 3-0.
McGill returned the favour soon after with a 32-yard boot to tie it up.
As the game progressed, the contact got more and more rough. Eventually both teams were warned by the referee, but penalties were racked up on both sides. “When you have a ball in hand that you fought for hard you don’t want to just give it away,” said Gibson. Eventually the referee started handing out sin bins, Concordia suffering four and McGill taking one. If this wasn’t bad enough, starters like Jonathan Dextras-Romagnino, Thomassin and David Biddle left the game with injuries.
“As the captain it’s tough not to freak out” with penalties and injuries, said newly appointed captain Curtis McKinney. “It’s always been McGill and we knew we couldn’t be counted out of this competition.”
It wasn’t long before McGill took advantage of Concordia’s reduced numbers to score. McGill’s eight-man picked the ball off the scrum and broke through the back line right in front of the uprights. Brendan O’Sullivan widened the lead for the Redman with the conversion to make it 10-3.
The Stingers would add another penalty kick by Dario Pellizzari, but McGill put the nails in the coffin with a try and two kicks.
The men play against Sherbrooke at home on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.