Being always the bridesmaid in back-to-back finals, the men’s rugby squad kicked off camp with one goal in mind: win the championship.
Each year the roster shuffles. Despite a promising rookie class, this year’s group will need to dig deep in order to fill the gap left from the losses of last year’s split captains Jimmy Bang and Jonathan Dextras-Romagnino
“Losing the leadership of two captains is huge,” said head coach Clive Gibson. Luckily for them, new team captain Dario Pellizzari has been “stepping up in a big way,” said Gibson. “He’s done many positive things that will make team unity very strong this year.”
“Championships are made through overcoming failure and adversity,” said Pellizzari. “The guys know what it feels like to lose two years in a row and now we know what to expect.”
For the majority of the student body, the last weeks of August are the last grasp at summer freedom. But for the Stingers rugby team, it’s the beginning of training camp and this means the fall season is just around the corner.
“Everyone’s looking at you for inspiration,” Pellizzari explained. “I was able to instill my values in the team this winter: work ethic, accountability and respect. If we stick to these values throughout the year, we’ll see great results.”
Along with this common set of values, a ‘no excuses’ attitude has been adopted by the veterans down to the rookies of this year’s team.
While Gibson was adamant about keeping his coaching strategies off the record, he did mention that he, along with his coaching staff, are not practitioners of the traditional rugby game. This is one of the many reasons for their success as of late.
“As a coaching staff, we are extremely committed to what we’d like to consider innovation,” said Gibson. “We are not traditional rugby minds. We’re always looking for that new angle or new approach. I think we may have found it.”
This year marked a very progressive time for the Stingers for the team has hired someone to recruit players on CÉGEP teams. This will allow the coach, who used to take on this role, to focus more on his team.
“I think it might be our year,” admitted Gibson. “There are still some key elements that need to be sorted out, but we’ve got time.”
The Stingers open their season at home on Friday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. against Sherbrooke.