Shaughnessy Cup: Frank Shaughnessy’s legacy lives on after over 50 years

Frank J. “Shag” Shaughnessy, and his cup. Credit – Keven Vaillancourt

Stingers to face McGill Redbirds at the 54th annual Shaughnessy Cup on Oct. 20 at Percival Molson Stadium. 

The Shaughnessy Cup will see Concordia and McGill face off on Oct. 20, but the man behind the cup is as interesting as the game itself.

Frank Shaughnessy: a Canadian sports pioneer

Frank Shaughnessy was the McGill University football head coach for 17 seasons, starting in 1912. During his time there, he helped transform Canadian football.

His most significant contribution to the game came in 1921. At the time, Canadian football looked like a hybrid between rugby and modern football, with players only able to pass the ball backwards. As mentioned by the McGill University Athletics Hall of Fame, Shaughnessy introduced the forward pass to the game in 1921. He also lobbied for its implementation into the rulebook until it was allowed in 1931.

After leaving McGill, he started coaching the Loyola College football team, where he helped them become the 1928 Canadian intermediate champions. For all of these contributions, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963, the Concordia University Sports Hall of Fame in 1967 and the McGill University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.

Shaughnessy was also a great baseball player and manager. Moreover, from 1936 to 1960, he was president of the International League, a baseball league composed of teams affiliated with the MLB. Under his presidency, the colour barrier was broken in baseball. Indeed, in October 1945, the Montreal Royals signed Jackie Robinson.

Robinson became the first Black player in an MLB-affiliated league the following year. Shaughnessy was a positive ally in Jackie Robinson’s integration into the Montreal Royals according to the Society for American Baseball Research. Shaughnessy was also inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 for his contributions to the development of baseball in Canada. Today, he is still the only person to be a member of both the Canadian Football and Baseball Halls of Fame.

The Shaughnessy Cup: a university football tradition

The Shaughnessy Cup was first played between McGill University and Loyola College in 1969, following Frank Shaughnessy’s passing. Since Sir George Williams University and Loyola College merged in 1975, McGill and Concordia have contested the cup yearly at the Percival Molson Stadium. Historically, the Stingers have had the upper hand over the Redbirds in the Shaughnessy Cup. Concordia leads the cup’s head-to-head win tally 29-18 and 29-23-1 when including the results of Loyola College’s games.

What to expect this year

The Stingers won the last two Shaughnessy Cup games in overtime and also beat McGill the last five games they faced them, since September 2021. 

Only looking at these results, one may think Concordia will easily defeat McGill. However, nothing is that simple in sports, and especially not in the Stingers-Redbirds rivalry. For example, in last year’s Shaughnessy Cup, the Stingers came back from behind three times to force overtime. The two teams also faced each other last month—it was a more straightforward affair for Concordia, winning the Shrine Bowl 42-24 without McGill ever taking the lead. 

The Stingers hope for a similar game on Oct. 20. Following their dominant victory 39-7 against the Sherbrooke Vert & Or on Oct. 14, a Shaughnessy Cup victory would also guarantee a third place in the standings for the Stingers, which would be a successful season for the football program.


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