City’s only professional ultimate team faces challenges for new season
The Royal was founded in 2013, and has been playing in the AUDL since 2014. It was the second Canadian team to join the league, after the Toronto Rush in 2013. Currently, there are 21 teams competing in the AUDL, with another Canadian team in Ottawa. The Royal plays its home games at the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard in Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
Ultimate has similarities with many sports. In the AUDL, the game is played with seven players per team, on a field comparable to a football field. A team needs to advance the disc in the opposing team’s end zone to score a point. Like most sports, it’s played in four quarters, each 12 minutes long, and an overtime if needed.
Despite these similarities, what differentiates ultimate from sports like basketball or football is that a player can’t walk or run when in possession of the disc. Players can only use an established pivot foot to make a pass to a teammate, so teams hold onto the disc until they score or lose possession of it.
Royal player Christophe Tremblay-Joncas said ultimate reunites particularities of many sports that make it fun for him. “You can jump, you can throw, you can run,” Tremblay-Joncas said. “There are many elements that normally in [another] sport, you would only find one of them.”
Stève Bonneau, who started playing ultimate in 2006 in France, made the trip from Europe to play with the Royal when the team invited him to their tryouts for the 2017 season.
“At that time, I was playing for the French national team” Bonneau said. “What motivated me was simply to come and play as a professional on the other side of the globe, which is already a unique experience. I also wanted to discover the sport at another level, with another way of playing the game. The dream of all European players is to come here and play in the AUDL.”
Caroline Cadotte, who has been the team’s head coach since 2017 and part of their coaching staff since its creation, said she loves what ultimate brings as a whole.
“We can push [the play] and have the control on our opponent with strategies, as much offensively as defensively,” said Cadotte. “It’s also played outside, so the weather conditions are part of the game. I also think there’s a lot of talented athletes, so there’s a need to have a good sports IQ to play.”
Cadotte said her role has differences with coaching in other sports. She added that the Royal, just like the AUDL, is still new and has rules that differ from the sport itself. For example, in normal ultimate games, there are no referees and players call the fouls. In the AUDL, there are referees.
“It makes a huge difference in our coaching,” Cadotte added. “It’s a really fast sport. We don’t have a lot of time to adjust between points, which is always a good challenge. On another note, it’s a sport that is semi-professional. It is not our [full-time] job either.”
According to Bonneau, the Royal, who had a 6-8 record in 2018 and missed the playoffs, will focus on having a good start for the 2019 AUDL campaign, which starts in April. He explained that the team will probably start the season with a lot of new faces.
“We’re rebuilding for 2019, so we’ll probably recruit a lot of youth and new players,” Bonneau said. “Our first goal is to rebuild a team quickly and build significant chemistry to have a great season start. Then, it would be great to make the playoffs, but I think step by step, our goals will be redirected depending on our progress during the season.”The Royal currently holds an all-time regular season record of 36-34. In two playoff appearances in 2015 and 2017, they haven’t won a game.
Main photo courtesy of Montreal Royal.