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Stingers rugby head back to RSEQ final with 17-0 win

Sherbrooke Vert et Or latest victim of undefeated season

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team remains perfect and is headed to the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final after beating the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or 17-0 on Nov. 3 at the Concordia Stadium.

“We had a great season, but this win doesn’t mean anything yet,” said centre Charles Debove, who didn’t play in the game. “We need to stay humble about it and get ready for the finals.”

It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon as fans gathered to watch the semi-final. Although the Stingers hosted it at the Concordia Stadium, it almost felt like it was a home game for the Vert et Or, as there were probably more Sherbrooke fans in attendance than Stingers fans.

The Stingers will host the Bishop’s Gaiters in the RSEQ final. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Within the first minute of the game, the Vert et Or had a great chance to strike first. Sherbrooke’s Clément Tisnerat, awarded rookie of the year, blocked a Stingers kick, and tired to recover the bouncing ball and return it for a try. Instead, he tapped the ball forward and the Stingers regained possession.

It was a defensive affair for most of the first half as the score remained 0-0 almost until the end, and neither defence gave up any ground. Finally, the Stingers got close to the try zone and capitalized. Eight-man Lucas Hotton was able to plow through several Sherbrooke defenders to take the seven-point lead.

It was quite the physical game and both teams jawed at each other. Both teams did a good job of securing the ball considering how cold and rainy it was. Concordia extended their lead to two possessions, making it 10-0 as Moritz Wittmann kicked a drop goal early in the second half. During the later part of the game, it started to sloppy, as both teams seemed to be quite tired, letting scoring chances slip right through their fingers.

Every time Sherbrooke marched down the field, the Stingers defense tightened up and came up with a big play—they simply would not allow the Vert et Or to score. This was representative of how their defence was all season long—they gave up less than 50 points in six regular-season games. Sherbrooke got frustrated at their inability to put points on the board, yelling at the ref and spiking the ball down.

The Stingers’s Malcolm Baird ended up getting another late try to win the game. The Stingers will play the Bishop’s Gaiters in the RSEQ final game next Saturday at Concordia at 2 p.m.  

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.

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Charles Debove credits teammates for his success

Rugby centre enjoys winning with the Stingers

The centre position in any sport is crucial. The player occupying this role must be as involved offensively as defensively. Charles Debove is that centre on the Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team.

“He’s like the father of the group,” said Stingers head coach Craig Beemer about Debove. “I don’t even think we’ve remotely come close to seeing the best of what Charles has to offer this year, which is obviously a compliment to him.”

Debove, originally from Nice, France, is in his fourth year with the Stingers and fully enjoys his experience.

“This picture says everything,” Debove said, pointing at his team leaving the field after their third win of the 2018-19 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season on Sept. 28.

Debove missed most of the 2016 season with an ACL injury in his left knee. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

Debove’s first two years with the Stingers were challenging due to injuries and coaching changes. A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his left knee forced the centre to miss most of the 2016-17 season. According to RSEQ statistics, Debove was limited to two games that year, finishing his season without a point. The Stingers went 1-6 that year and allowed 243 points, the most in the league.

“I went back to training for six months before getting back for my first game,” Debove said. “It was super stressful. The contact was hard in my first game back because I wasn’t used to contact anymore. That’s rugby. If you didn’t play for six months, you’ll feel it a lot.”

The 2017-18 Stingers season was nothing like their previous one. They won all their regular-season and playoff games before winning the RSEQ title. They lost to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the McMaster Marauders in the national championship. According to Debove, last season served as a learning experience for what’s ahead this year.

“That’s where it all started,” Debove said. “For sure, we faced two major forces in Canadian rugby. It was hard for us because we were not ready, but now we are and that’s our goal. We try to see further while remaining humble and as competitive as we were last year.”

Debove was a big part of last year’s success. Finishing the RSEQ season with nine tries and 45 points, he was named game MVP three times. He was also recognized for his performances, earning the RSEQ MVP in men’s rugby and being named in the RSEQ’s first all-star team. For the France native, his teammates have a lot to do with his success on the field.

“I can’t talk for myself,” Debove said. “I must talk for my team because they are the ones who make me shine. We help out each other and that’s how we win games. The three times I got the MVP last season, I was just playing my game. However, it’s still a team game.”

“They’ve really put me in easy situations,” he added. “We also have a system that is really expanded, so it gives us a lot of spaces and options.”

Debove still admits he was honoured to received the awards last season.

“I just think I gave my best last year,” Debove said. “It was cool to receive this RSEQ’s league MVP. It was a great honour.”

Debove makes a tackle during the Stingers game against the Carabins on Sept. 28. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

Debove spends a lot of time with his teammates, and he cherishes those moments. He explained that, even off the field, he is always with at least one other teammate.

“We’re here together like five times a week,” Debove said. “This is something we can’t find with another team, or with our provincial teams.”

“We also watch videos because we’re doing this seven days a week since we’re in the season,” he added. “After, we learn from it and adjust because everybody knows our plays. We always need to adapt and change things.”

According to Debove, these efforts are essential if the Stingers want to achieve more success than last year.

“We need to be prepared for what’s coming,” he said. “We first need to win the RSEQ title, and then we go to the nationals. It’s in the way, but we need to complete all the steps.”

So far this season, Debove has three tries in four games. The Stingers are currently ranked first in the league with a 4-0 record.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.

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Men’s rugby team crowned RSEQ champions after beating ETS 35-7

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.

The men’s rugby team will now play in the national championship in Guelph, Ont., from Nov. 16 to 19. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“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.

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