Perfect season continues as Stingers head to nationals
The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team won the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) championship on Nov. 12 at Concordia Stadium. They beat the École de technologie supérieure (ETS) Piranhas in the final, by a score of 35-7.
Centre Samuel Montminy led the Stingers with two tries in the game. Fly-half Moritz Wittmann and hooker Nicholas Smith both added a try, and fly-half Jonathan Banks scored two penalty kicks.
The Stingers entered the final undefeated, winning all seven of their regular season games as well as their semifinal match against the McGill Redmen. The Piranhas stayed just above a .500 record on the year, finishing 3-3-1 before winning their semifinal against the Bishop’s Gaiters. The Stingers beat the Piranhas 36-12 during the last matchup between the two teams on Sept. 17.
Stingers head coach Craig Beemer had nothing but praise for the Piranhas squad that continued to battle for the entire game.
“I thought that [ETS] would have trouble handling our skill and our use of the width of the field,” he said. “I knew that they would tackle really well and they did. The score was really close for 25-30 minutes, and that’s because ETS is a heck of a team, a really well-coached team by Rudy Escoffier. It was a bit surprising.”
According to Beemer, the Stingers’ 21-0 lead after the first half didn’t reflect how good of a team the Piranhas were. “That [first half] was probably our toughest 40 minutes we’ve had all year.”
Beemer added that the Stingers were motivated to cap off a perfect season with this championship after the disappointment of last season, when the Stingers finished 1-6.
“It was pretty easy to stay humble,” Beemer said. “Our theme was: good is the enemy of great. Despite our winning streak, the guys were hungry and wanted to win every week. It comes down to the fact that we had really great players this year, and I was fortunate enough to have a great coaching staff.”
“I’m one of 67 guys,” Beemer added. “Every person that’s on this team puts something forth. It’s easy to keep guys motivated when you have everyone holding each other accountable.”
Centre Charles Debove, who was named the most outstanding player in the RSEQ this season, echoed his coach’s message.
“We came into the game ready to go to war,” Debove said. “[After] all the work we did during the season, it feels amazing to finally win a championship with the boys. We’re such a tight-knit group.”
Debove added that the team’s mindset this season was completely different from last year’s. “Compared to last year, we knew we were never going to feel that way again. 1-6 was not acceptable,” he said. “We succeeded as a team.”
After this championship win, the Stingers will head to Guelph, Ont., for the men’s rugby nationals. Beemer said the team will have to improve their discipline to be successful against the other top-ranked teams in the country.
“We’ve got a lot of skill,” the coach said. “The teams are going to be really good. Not to take anything away from our league, but it’s going to be the best from every province. I don’t know if we’ve been tested well enough this season so far.”
Debove added: “We need to be more resilient. We need to get ready for better competition.”
The Canadian university men’s rugby championship will kick off on Nov. 16.
Main photo by Alex Hutchins.