All teams were in action Wednesday for the first day of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC). The Concordia Stingers concluded the day with a 10-7 victory over the University of Guelph Gryphons.
With eight teams in the tournament, the first-ranked team played the eighth-ranked team, the second-ranked team played the seventh, and so on.
The Stingers and Gryphons, fourth and fifth respectively, knew each other well, as they met last year for the previous edition of the CUMRC. The Stingers won that game 19-5.
Both teams had good scoring opportunities, however the Stingers’s defence played an almost perfect game, and helped the team win regardless of scoring just a single try and penalty kick. The try was scored by veteran Stephen Martinez in the first half.
Head coach Craig Beemer thought the Stingers were dominant in many aspects, but said the defence was really good.
“When [the offence] doesn’t score the points you need, and the game gets tight, you can get a crazy finish like that,” Beemer said. “Hats off to Guelph, they battled for the full 60 minutes, and really put us under pressure at the end.”
The decision to opt for a three-point penalty kick with 15 minutes left in the second half came from the game being a one score contest. Beemer said the opportunity was there, as the Stingers were aligned right between the posts in Gryphons’s territory.
“You want to automatically make it [a difference] of two scores,” Beemer said. “That came back right. In the second half, if you can advance it by another score or even more, then you take it.”
Stingers centre Aidan McMullan, who scored that penalty kick, said the experience of playing the CUMRC at home is awesome.
“We had the game at 6 p.m., so everyone could come after work,” said McMullan. “It’s awesome to have family and friends coming out, cheering you on, and supporting you through this whole season. Now, it’s finally this tournament, and we’re just going to keep on going.”
The Stingers will now play the two-time CUMRC defending champions University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semi-final on Friday. It’s the third time in as many years the two teams meet at the championship. Beemer said he likes his team’s chances.
“I like our players’ attitude right now,” Beemer said. “I think they believe in themselves. I like our attack. If you want to win gold, you have to beat the best team.”
The game starts at 2:30 p.m. at Concordia Stadium. The winner will play for gold at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Photos by Cecilia Piga