Emotions run high in rugby exhibition

The second annual Kelly-Ann Drummond Cup saw the best in Quebec women’s rugby in head to head competition last Wednesday before hundreds at Loyola field. The McGill Martlets edged the Concordia Stingers 15-0 to take the cup for the second straight year.

Kelly-Ann Drummond played rugby with heart and integrity, she was known for her fun-loving spirit and intensity on and off the field. Kelly-Ann was the kind of player that defines what rugby is all about. A proud member of the front row for the Concordia Stingers rugby squad from 1999 through 2001, she graduated in 2002 from the Communications department. The Cup commemorates the late Stinger who was slain on Oct. 4 2004; her boyfriend was convicted of stabbing her to death last April. Her no. 3 jersey was retired last year and in solidarity McGill left theirs at home as well.

From the kickoff, it was clear both teams were coming out hard. The Concordia pack laid some early hits on the McGill scrum half and continued with consistent punishing tackles. The Stingers were able to steal possession in the scrums with forceful drives that kept McGill from getting clean ball. However, McGill held Concordia up in contact and was able to snatch possession back with strong rolling mauls and pick-and-go forward moves. The Martlet backs swung the ball wide forcing Concordia’s defence to react. McGill winger and 2005-2006 QSSF all-star Laura Belvedere came through for McGill again and again, taking the ball on sharp angles, gaining ground only to be brought down by the Stinger pack before she could fully break through the line.

Concordia flyhalf Jenny Rosenbaum ran the ball up field and was able to penetrate the stiff McGill defence but the opposition’s pack turned the ball over with quick, powerful rucks. The pace was intense and after a long fight, McGill was finally able to put one down over the Concordia Try line, unconverted, that left McGill with a five point lead.

Motivated to close the margin, Concordia continued to support each other. Scrum Half Robin Hunter was moving the ball efficiently and making key hits to shut McGill down. During the second half, Hunter moved to inside centre and was replaced by Melanie Tranchemontagne who brought her relentless poise and communication to get Concordia moving forward again. The ball went out clean to the back line to winger Virginia Klinkhoff who was stopped mere metres from the Marlet line after a 40-metre dash.

Concordia fought solidly but Belvedere would finally get through and put her team up by another five, again unconverted by McGill kicker Sandy Sampson. The McGill backrow would add another on Concordia’s five-metre line before the final whistle would blow.

The presentation of the Cup by Concordia Athletics director Katie Sheehan and Kelly-Ann’s mother Doreen Haddad was emotional for both sides. The teams were equally balanced with talent and motivation in a close game that demanded heart and unflinching determination and sportsmanship. This was the smallest margin of points Concordia has lost to McGill in years. The Stingers were deeply moved when Haddad came over to congratulate the team on a hard fought game; the Stingers promised her the Cup next year.

Throughout the game, donations of cash and clothes for the West Island Women’s Shelter were collected from the resolute fans who braved glacial wind and rain to attend. Sheehan pledged that the Concordia Athletics department would match the total raised in the stands again this year. She was proud to find out the fans gave $1,278, beating last year’s total of just over $1,000.

McGill met Concordia on Sunday at Concordia field, and defeated the Stingers 13-5 in Conference play. The Stingers look forward to the semi-final match up that sees them play against McGill Saturday for a spot in the Quebec finals against the winner of the game between the undefeated first-place Laval Rouge-Et-Or and fourth-place Ottawa Gee-Gees. With a week to prepare, Stingers coach Graeme McGravie is confident they can work out the kinks and come up with the win.

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