Vikes dethrone Thunderbirds in CUMRC gold medal game

The Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) gold medal game didn’t disappoint, as we had to wait until the very last play to declare a winner. The University of Victoria Vikes finally won the battle 21-20.

The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds entered the contest as two-time CUMRC defending champions, and the first-ranked team of the tournament. The Vikes and Thunderbirds knew each other well, as the teams battle often in British Columbia.

The game started well for the Thunderbirds, as they scored two tries and 12 points in the first 15 minutes. However, the Vikes answered with 14 points in four minutes at the end of the first half to take the lead at halftime.

Thunderbirds head coach Curry Hitchborn said at halftime, he told his players they needed to settle down.

“They needed to relax,” Hitchborn said. “I told them the Vikes were there to play, and were going to test us. [They had] to stick to what they knew, keep it simple and not make it hard on ourselves. We did the complete opposite at times.”

The second half offered tight plays from start to finish. After the Thunderbirds scored three points on a penalty kick, teams exchanged tries.

At 21-20 Vikes in additional time, the Thunderbirds had the game’s destiny in their hands. They scored a try in additional time and had to convert for two points. A successful kick meant a win, and missed one meant a Vikes victory.

Vikes head coach Doug Tate said it’s good his team didn’t panic when they were down by 12 points.

“I think we closed the space, Tate said. “They are big runners, so if you get them off their feet, [it helps]. When we had chances to score, we did it. We didn’t give them many chances, as we were very aggressive defensively. We got a few bounces our way today, as they were close [to tying] the game.”

Tate said that being champions feels good for the Vikes. He said that victory feels more special than usual because of the history between the teams.

“I think we didn’t beat them in five years. Some of these guys have been with the Vikes for four or five years, and had never won against the Thunderbirds. For them, to beat that team in the CUMRC final is pretty special.”

On his side, Hitchborn gave a lot of credit to the Vikes. He said they came to play, and offered a massive effort.

“That was the best I’ve ever seen them play in years,” Hitchborn said. “They were everything a championship team needed to be. We play each other so often. It’s really great to see guys on both sides rise to the occasion like they did. It was a brilliant game for them.”


Stingers men’s rugby team loses to the Gaels in CUMRC bronze medal game

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team lost its Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) bronze medal game 31-22 against the Queen’s University Gaels on Sunday morning, which concluded the team’s 2019-20 season.

The Stingers never managed to be in control of the game, as the Gaels took an early lead in the first half and never looked back.

Stingers head coach Craig Beemer said he wishes his players left the field with a better result after the effort they put and the season they had.

“I’m definitely not a participation guy,” Beemer said. “Our goal was the medal, so we didn’t meet our goal. I think you saw on Friday night, as well as in today’s second half, we have earned the right to have a medal, but it just didn’t happen for us today.”

Despite being a unique and great experience for the teams, the CUMRC still has challenges. Beemer said it was tough to go from one game a week, like the team is used to during its regular Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season, to three games in five days.

That’s where you see the blood, sweat and tears,” Beemer said. “These guys put in so many hours as student-athletes. When the coaching staff and I ask them to do things, I think that’s the toughest part [since they already put in so much time and always give their best effort].”

The Stingers gained some momentum late in the second half, scoring two consecutive tries for the first time of the game. Unfortunately for them, time ran out shortly thereafter. Beemer said having good starts is essential in a tournament like this one, and gave credit to the Gaels for their performance.

“Hats off to the Gaels,” said Beemer. “They played really well, and scored tries when they needed to. Our defence put theirs under a lot of pressure, but they responded really well. They were the better team today.”

Hooker Michael Laplaine-Pereira, who scored the Stingers’s consecutive tries in the second half and was named the Stingers most valuable player of the game, said despite the loss, the team is still happy with their season.

“We developed strong connections between the boys,” Laplaine-Pereira said. “It’s a life experience. We knew it would end at some point this week, and had to give everything we had today. We put everything we did this whole season on the line.”

Laplaine-Pereira said in events like that, where teams face injuries and challenges, the most important thing is to remain in good spirits.

“We’re not just leaving with a loss today,” Laplaine-Pereira said. “We’re leaving with a family, and connections that will stay for a long time.”

The Stingers officially conclude the CUMRC in fourth place, the same position they finished last year when they lost to the University of Victoria Vikes in the bronze medal game.


Feature photo by Laurence B.D.


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

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