Women’s rugby coach Graeme McGravie talks about the upcoming year
Last year, the women’s rugby team had a successful season that brought them all the way to Nationals. They won six out of their seven games and posted a point differential of plus 260. The team was able to finish second in the Réseau de sport étudiant de Quebec (RSEQ) division, but according to coach Graeme McGravie, the team is always looking to improve.
“The goal is always the same—it is to win week in and week out,” McGravie said. “We want to—and expect to—win every single game, every single week and eventually get a medal at the Nationals.”
The team has started to practice and is already refining their skills for the upcoming season. Many of the Stingers players from last year are returning, and with a few new recruits, McGravie feels the team is ready to take the next step.
“This year, we have a lot of fifth year players and returning players,” McGravie said. “We have a lot of veterans and experience, so the focus is to win—now and fast. If we would have had a mantra going into training camp, it would definitely be win now.’”
Last season, the Stingers made it to Nationals, but lost in the third place game to the Queen’s University Golden Gaels with a score of 27-13. Two of the players that led the team to Nationals last season were the dynamic duo Frédérique Rajotte and Alex Tessier. Rajotte and Tessier are both All-Canadians, and Rajotte was named league MVP. For McGravie, the team’s physical strategy helps both of these players put up points.
“We like to bang on other teams and get physical to wear them out. It allows us to let Fred and Tess use their speed and work their magic on the boundaries,” said McGravie.
When asked about how the coaching staff is looking at tactical changes going into training camp, McGravie said the physical style of play the team has adopted over the years will remain a staple of the program. McGravie even compared his team to the New York Giants of the NFL.
In terms of recruitment for the upcoming season, McGravie said a winning program and players like Rajotte on his team help in the recruiting process
“It’s kind of like when Kevin Durant went to the Warriors. Players want to go where they’re winning,” McGravie said.
One of the big additions to this year’s team is Francois Ratier, Team Canada’s senior women’s rugby head coach and former technical director of Rugby Quebec. Ratier will be joining the team as an assistant coach.
“He’s the man,” McGravie said. “He’s going to help the coaching staff and kind of look over things. He doesn’t guarantee us wins but he’s going to push everybody on the coaching staff and will be a great asset to the team.”
The Stingers will be given a chance to make an impression on the league during their season opener at home against the Laval Rouge Et Or. The game is on Sept. 5 and will be the first step on the road to Nationals.