Rugby Sports

Concordia Stingers seem to have a promising year ahead

Concordia Stingers’ women’s rugby Players confident after securing a 93-0 win in season opener against McGill Martlets.

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team tackled the home-opener and won against the McGill Martlets in their most anticipated game of the year, the 19th annual Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup, on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

This cup is dedicated to Kelly-Anne Drummond, a former Stingers rugby player. Drummond tragically passed away in 2004 due to a domestic violence incident. “Us as women, we’re playing a contact sport—something that empowers us—and I think rugby specifically is such an amazing way to honour her. To play in that game for her is something so special,” said Stingers fullback Madeleine McTavish.  

The game attracted many supporters, as it does every year. Each player put in their best performance and contributed to the score. “Everything was falling into place. Passes were sharp, it was flowing well. Everybody had their little moment [in the game],” said Stingers forward Roxanne Galarneau. “We were all playing for each other and for a greater purpose,” added Stingers prop Fallon Coulouris.

The team has also been adjusting to a new coaching style. Certain positions were switched, players were learning and trying different things. Nevertheless, everyone played as though they had been in these positions for a long time, according to Coulouris. At one point, the players were even anticipating the possibility of a three-digit score in the end.     

Following this big win, the team continued to assert dominance in another successful game against Bishop’s Gaiters on Sunday, Sept. 10,  beating them with a final score of 60-5. “The win against Bishops was to solidify our position in the standings. We’re not going to be underestimated in the RSEQ and we’re not going to be underestimated in the U Sports Canadian Rugby Championship,” said McTavish

Coulouris, Galarneau and McTavish emphasized on the bonds between the Stingers players, when sharing some of their highlights of rugby . Galarneau, who is entering her third season as a Concordia Stinger, revealed that she has learned so much by being on the team. 

Coulouris began playing rugby in her last year of high school and went on to play for Dawson College. She explained that playing the sport in college was a much different experience than playing in university, and that a lot has changed and developed in her five years of being part of the Stingers. 

McTavish was also introduced to rugby in high school and continued playing in college. She expressed how everyone was welcoming and encouraging when she joined the Stingers. She spent her first season watching players she looked up to and working very hard towards her debut. “I made such lasting friendships. This team has been so special for us,” she said.

As part of their biggest achievements, all three women were proud to share that they made the roster for Rugby Quebec. McTavish added that all three of them are recipients of the Kelly-Anne Drummond scholarship, and that it was a very emotional experience for them. “It’s a lot more than a scholarship,” she said. 


Stingers men’s rugby team defeated by Thunderbirds, will play for bronze

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team gave the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds a hard battle in Friday’s semi-final game, but ultimately lost 22-18.

Despite the loss, the Stingers left Concordia Stadium with pride. They brought their best on the field, and forced the Thunderbirds to do the same. Head coach Craig Beemer said he’s really happy with the effort and performance his team offered. He explained that the Stingers couldn’t have done much more.

“I told someone, which was a little bit cliché, but David [versus Goliath] doesn’t always win,” Beemer said. “I like the fact we just competed the entire game. I don’t really think about X’s and O’s right now. It feels like maybe we should have won, but it doesn’t work that way.”

The Thunderbirds scored the first 12 points of the game which were the only points scored in the first half. However, that was the biggest lead the game saw, as the Stingers pushed back in the second half and even took a 13-12 lead at one point. Beemer said his team was really motivated at halftime.

“We were looking at that game thinking we could win,” Beemer said. “There’s no question in the heart my team has. We didn’t back down, and in a lot of ways we took it to them in the second half. It was just a great team effort of heart and determination at 100 per cent.”

In the last minutes of the second half, the Thunderbirds added three points on a penalty kick. The Stingers would afterwards score a try in additional time, but it was too late.

The Stingers battle for bronze against the Queen’s University Gaels in their final game of the year on Sunday. The game starts at 10:30 a.m. at Concordia Stadium.


Feature photo by Alec Brideau


Stingers men’s rugby team starts CUMRC with a win

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.”

Stephen Martinez poses with Concordia’s athletics director, D’Arcy Ryan, after being named player of the game for the Stingers.

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


“I just want to play rugby and do my thing”

“Stan’s a thinker: he’s not overly loud, he’s quiet,” said men’s rugby head coach Craig Beemer about what he’s observed of fullback Stanislas Blazkowski his first year as a Stinger. “Obviously, he’s a really talented rugby player. He’s still young so even though he’s already got all these accolades, you can see that he still wants to learn and continue to improve.”

The 21-year-old started playing rugby for the Montreal Rugby Club when he was 11. Before that, Blazkowski played a variety of other sports: hockey, judo, boxing, and soccer among them.

After spending the first few years of his life in Melum, France, Blazkowski’s parents, who had visited Montreal when they were younger and always wanted to live here, finally made the move when Blazkowski was five years old.

“When I [became] a teenager, I didn’t know what culture I should refer to the most, between the French one and the Canadian one, especially while I lived in Montreal and all my family was in France,” said Blazkowski about how it felt living in both countries at various points in his life. “It was kind of tricky, but now I feel Canadian and French at the same time.”

In 2016, Blazkowski moved back to France and played for the Racing Club de Narbonne Méditerannée U22 team. It was a competitive environment and, even though Blazkowski enjoyed it, it unfortunately didn’t work out. This is in part – Blazkowski explained that it was a complicated situation – because the age group he was playing in was lowered by one year, and, despite still having one year of eligibility left, no one recruited him, opting instead for younger players.

Last summer, Blazkowski decided to come back to Montreal to play for the Stingers and attend JMSB as an international business student. “I love traveling, I speak three languages, I want to discover the world,” Blazkowski said. “If I can do this through my job, this would be perfect.”

Coming to Concordia wasn’t a hard decision. During his time in Montreal playing for Team Quebec over the summers while he was still living in France, Blazkowski met coach Beemer. He reached out to the head coach, knowing that Concordia was hosting the 2019 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (Nov. 20-24) and that the men’s rugby team had been successful in past seasons.

Blazkowski also previously played with many other players on the team from Team Quebec and from when he played for various other clubs, such as RC Montréal, Beaconsfield and Town of Mount Royal RFC.

“[Rugby] is the kind of sport where you go to war with people and, after a game, it’s all friends,” Blazkowski said about the sport’s culture, noting the chemistry and bonds he’s built over the years. “What you share on the field, you’ll share off the field too.”

And what they’ve shared on the field is a third consecutive all-win season, claiming the 2019-20 RSEQ Provincial Rugby Championship title on Nov. 9. With a successful year for the Stingers, Blazkowski also had an epic rookie year, and was named to the RSEQ first all-star team.

“He has really high standards. He wants to be improving all the time,” Beemer said of Blazkowski. “He already is a good player but in the two, three years he’s going to be here, he’s going to be a much better player just purely based on his own drive and his willingness to be really really good.”

Despite his obvious talent, for Blazkowski, it doesn’t matter. “I don’t really care about that kind of thing. I just want to play rugby and do my thing.”

Being a full time student isn’t an easy feat for anyone and requires a lot of time management. Playing as a varsity level athlete on top of student obligations doesn’t make things easier. On top of studying international business, rugby training and practice can take up to four hours a day, four days a week, with games on weekends. All this leaves little time for much else, but Blazkowski still manages to enjoy some leisure activities such as reading, watching sports and “hanging out with the boys.”

At the end of the day, regardless of the time and work it takes, or the honours received, Blazkowski just wants to play rugby and wants to try to make it to the highest level he can.


Photos by Laurence B.D.


Stingers rugby teams remain unknown by students despite success

It’s already been a year since I started covering Concordia Stingers games for The Concordian. I’ve always dreamed of being a sports journalist, and being in an environment where you enjoy your job so much that the word ‘work’ doesn’t exist for you.

To get the chance to cover sports games, interview people, and gain experience every day while having fun doing it is amazing. To be able to do so constantly during my studies is a privilege.

I remember one of my first assignments for the paper; to cover a rugby game. When I talk about the pleasures of gaining experience while having fun, that’s exactly it.

A few years ago, I started watching rugby games on television. I was interested, but mostly intrigued by this sport which, in my mind, had many similarities with American football. I was pretty excited the day I was covering the game, but I didn’t know all the rules and had to do a bit of research beforehand.

I’ve covered a couple of rugby games since, and each time it seems like my love for the sport just keeps growing.

That being said, when I cover those games as a journalist, there’s one thing I never forget, and it’s the reader. I am not writing a sport game recap for myself, but for the people reading it. Sometimes, it happens that you know your subject so well that you could talk about it forever. However, that doesn’t mean the person in front of you can do the same. Last week, someone put exactly what I mean into words.

Rugby doesn’t seem to be well-known by the Concordia community. That’s what I realized when someone asked me to repeat the word ‘rugby’ three times because she never heard it before.

More popular in other continents like Europe and Oceania, rugby was born more than 2,000 years ago. In what was first considered a game of football, the sport started to present unique rules that then differentiated it from other sports.

Rugby developed and became popular in many schools and regions in Europe, which can explain the popularity of the game there today, especially in England. The country’s currently ranked third in the men’s rankings of World Rugby, the most prestigious international league. A Rugby World Cup is played every four years, opposing the top international teams.

The last World Rugby Cup, in 2015, was won by the New Zealand All Blacks team. It was the first time a team won back-to-back World Rugby Cups. The All Blacks are considered by many as the best. In fact, they are on top of the league’s rankings.

However, what people most often talk about with regards to the All Blacks is their unique choreography before games, called ‘haka,’a traditional dance form of the Māori people of New Zealand.

Rules of today’s rugby aren’t the same as the ones used in the game’s early stages, neither are the terms and equipment. Main elements differing rugby from other sports include backward passes of the ball, mauls, scrums, and even tries scored by teams.

In rugby, a team scoring a try, which is five points plus an extra two with a successful conversion after, can only do so by placing the ball behind the opponent’s dead ball area. In football, such a try is called a touchdown and may also be scored with a passing play.

That is one of many differences between rugby and other sports. I could write a thousand words about the rules of rugby, but that would make this a boring piece.

Instead, let’s focus on the rugby played at Concordia with the two Stingers rugby teams.

In fact, the teams can’t do any better right now. The men’s team, back-to-back Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) champions, is currently on a 22-game winning streak and haven’t lost a game in the league since 2016. The team has even participated to the previous and first two editions of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship with their RSEQ titles of 2017 and 2018.

Concordia will host the Championship this year, marking a third appearance at the tournament in as many years for the Stingers. The event will be held at Concordia Stadium from Nov. 20-24.

On the women’s side, the team has bounced back from a 2-7 season last year to a perfect 6-0 record this season. Despite their RSEQ semi-final loss against the Université Laval Rouge et Or, the team has been impressive all season long.

Fourth-year player on the men’s team Lucas Hotton said it’s understandable that people aren’t familiar with the sport. He said that rugby grew up from what we now call American football, but people grew up following the evolved North American version of the game.

“If you go elsewhere than North America, rugby is likely the leading contact sport,” Hotton said. “It has a low barrier to entry, great core values, and is a sport accepting everyone. To grow the game’s popularity is really difficult with football’s market already in place, but I believe you can work with high schools and clubs to improve participation at junior levels, and hopefully keep the kids in the sport as they grow older into senior level. It’s a tough task, but one that really needs to be addressed on this continent, in the country and in this province.”

To have Concordia’s sports facilities at Loyola’s campus instead of near downtown’s campus might explain in part why most students aren’t connected to Stingers rugby. That’s at least what Hotton suggested, saying there is a lack of connections between them and the teams.

“Most students study and have based themselves downtown,” Hotton said. “Loyola is quite foreign and far to them. Even the shuttle bus doesn’t operate most game days, which are during weekends. I don’t think we’ll see any field appear downtown, but if there’s a way to bring the [games] to downtown’s campus, I’m sure the connection would be made.”

Hotton played other sports before discovering rugby at CEGEP. A friend invited him to try out for the school’s team and his love for the game started to grow. He explained that like in many sports, rugby brings fundamental values. However, he thought this was even more true with rugby.

“I’ve had the privilege of playing many sports, and there’s not one like rugby,” Hotton said. “[You’re playing your game, might hurt someone], but at the end you’re still hanging out and buying that person a beer after the game. Most of the time it’s someone you’ve never met before.”

Both Stingers rugby teams play in the RSEQ. But there are slight differences. With seven teams in the RSEQ men’s rugby, each team faces each other once during the regular season for a total of six games. There is only one division, or in other words pool, with all seven teams together.

However, the RSEQ women’s rugby presents eight teams, which divides teams into two groups of four. The Stingers are playing in Section B and are facing each teams of their division twice in the season, for a total of six games. They can’t play teams of Section A except in the RSEQ playoffs.

While the women’s team’s season is officially over after their loss to the Rouge et Or, the men’s team will play its next and final game of the regular season on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. against the Bishop’s University Gaiters. With a current 5-0 record, the team will look to conclude its regular season undefeated for a third straight year.


Feature photo by Laurence B.D.


Concordia 74 McGill 0: Motivation not an issue as Stingers dominate Martlets

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team defeated McGill University 74-0 Sunday afternoon for the 15th annual Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup at Concordia Stadium, successfully defending their title from last year.

There were 11 Stingers who finished the game on the scoresheet, with 10 players scoring at least one try. Head coach Jocelyn Barrieau said it was great to see everyone contribute to the victory.

“It means they are playing for each other,” Barrieau said. They’re not selfish, as they love to move the ball. They don’t care who scores the try. They just want to score as a team, and I think they showed it really well today.”

As the Stingers looked to leave Concordia Stadium still undefeated in this 2019-2020 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season, Barrieau said the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup game was the easiest game of the season for players to get extra motivation.

“We don’t have to search really far ahead of us [to be motivated for that match]. We have Kelly-Anne’s mother, Doreen, who’s there. It’s something really important to all of us.”

The Stingers established their game quickly, scoring their first try of the game in the 12th minute of the first half. The team went on to score four more tries in the first half, before adding seven more in the second.

In what might first look like an almost perfect game despite few missed two-point conversions, Barrieau said this game had nothing close to being a perfect performance.

“We played well, but it was far from being a perfect match,” Barrieau said. “We have a lot of details to work on. We always look to improve when we can do so, and we still have many things that we need to get better at.”

Stingers fifth-year player Lia Hoyte was named the MVP of the game, scoring one try. Hoyte now has two tries in four games played this season.

With one game left to the Stingers’s campaign, the team shows a perfect 5-0 record. Barrieau said if things are worked that well for the Stingers so far, it’s because of the players’ dedication to their team and sport.

“Players are so committed [to what they do],” Barrieau said. “It’s all about their overall implication, as they’ve worked so hard during the off-season last winter.”

The Stingers will play McGill once again for their last regular season game on Oct. 6 at the Percival Molson Stadium.


Photo by Laurence B. D.

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