The Stingers defeated the Redmen during overtime 28-21 in the RSEQ final
It was a fist-clenching, heart-stopping, back-and-forth final match that pitted cross-town rivals against each other, and was ultimately decided in overtime. It seemed scripted, almost too good to be true.
But as the final whistle blew on Sunday’s Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) rugby championship game between the McGill Redmen and the Concordia Stingers, the home side erupted and emerged victorious.
Before Concordia’s 28-21 victory on Sunday, the Stingers and the Redmen had met in the RSEQ final game the last four seasons, and each time, the Stingers had to endure the sour taste of defeat.
“I’m obviously ecstatic, it’s been five years waiting. It’s terrific, it was down to the bitter end,” said Concordia’s head coach Clive Gibson. “Fans couldn’t have asked for a better [and] more exciting finish than that. Two great teams playing rugby right to the bitter end.”
The game didn’t start as planned for Gibson and his team. The Redmen came out ready to add another championship to their dynasty and pressured the Stingers right out of the gate. Pinned in their own end for the first ten minutes, Concordia was finally able to gain control of the ball and shift the momentum.
The first points of the game came off the foot of Concordia’s Joey Fulginiti when he hit a 25-yard field goal to give the Stingers a 3-0 lead.
As halftime neared, the tempo of the game was competitive yet conservative. Neither team managed to sustain long drives that could penetrate their opponent’s defence.
The majority of the scoring in the first half came during the final two minutes of play. After a field goal by McGill fullback Thomas Stokes tied the game at three, Concordia answered with a late drive of their own. Fulginiti chipped another kick through the uprights and gave the Stingers a 6-3 lead heading into half.
The second half began just like the first half had ended. Concordia marched down the field and Fulginiti knocked down another field goal to increase the Stingers lead to 9-3. However, from then until the end of the game, it was all McGill.
The Redmen dominated the rest of the second half and would score 13 unanswered points. Even though Concordia was the quicker team, McGill outmuscled Concordia and won nearly every battle. As the clock started to reach full-time, it seemed as if the deflated Stingers team would be heading home with silver once again.
As the clock expired, Concordia had the ball for the game’s final possession. It was now or never for the home team as the crowd collectively held their breath. The offence made the most of their time and the Stingers willed their way down the field and deep into McGill’s territory. Stingers center Graeme McClintock finished off the drive with a try to tie the game at 16-16.
In a game where it looked like defence would decide the outcome, there was no shortage of scoring in the two 10-minute overtime periods. After exchanging tries, the game was knotted at 21-21 late in the second overtime.
As the crowd could hardly handle any more excitement, Phillipe Bibeau-Remedi blocked a punt and returned the ball for Concordia’s final try. After another successful conversion by Fulginiti to make it 28-21, all there was left to do was celebrate.
“There [are] guys out there who know they were retiring and who [have] tried. Some of them, this is their fifth time,” said Gibson. “To actually get the win on the fifth time before they finally finish their CIS eligibility, and be able to graduate, I think it’s going to be a good night.”