Football Rugby Soccer Sports

These Concordia semi-final results may sting

The men’s soccer, rugby and football teams all exited in the first round of the RSEQ playoffs this past week.

The time has come to start playing indoors again. Fall and summer sports are wrapping up as the weather gets crispier and heads turn towards sports with freshly renewing seasons. 

That being said, it seems our teams are ready to get a head start on hibernation. Three playoff games were played by the Stingers, and all three of them turned out to be losses. 

Men’s Soccer

On Oct. 27, the men’s soccer team played the Université de Montréal Carabins in a tough RSEQ semi-final matchup at the CEPSUM. The Stingers not only had an away disadvantage walking onto the field, they were also the underdogs. Of the seven teams in the RSEQ, the Stingers finished the regular season in fourth place, securing the very last spot of the playoffs, with only five victories out of 12 games. Meanwhile, the Carabins finished the season without a loss. 

The Carabins yet again proved why they averaged over two goals per game throughout the season: efficiency. Even though Concordia outshot them six goals to four in the first half, the home team was able to convert twice, once from a penalty kick by centre back Kareem Sow. 

Tristan Nkoghe jumps for a high ball
Photo Credit: Concordia Stinger Athletics

The Stingers weren’t too disciplined around the pitch, as they outfouled their opponents and picked up three different yellow cards in the second half, seemingly out of frustration. The third was given out less than three minutes after the final deal-sealing goal was scored. The Carabins won 3-0. Surprisingly, they lost in the finals to the 6-5-1 Patriotes of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières last Friday. 

Men’s Rugby

It was more or less the same story for the men’s rugby team, who were just able to squeeze into a playoff spot. Bishop’s 15-25 season finale loss at Stade Percival-Molson pushed the Stingers through by point differential, as both the Gaiters and Concordia finished the season with a .500 win percentage. 

Jack Weller and Willem Nijzink make a tackle.
Photo Credit: Concordia Stingers Athletics

For the semi-final game played this past Sunday, Oct. 29, the Stingers had to face the Piranhas of the École de technologie supérieure, who were invincible in the regular season. Lo and behold, another crushing semi-final away loss as Concordia was vanquished 34-3. Five different players each scored a try on the Piranhas, including third line Xabi Chrit, who won game MVP. On Nov. 5, ÉTS lost 18-17 in the finals to the second place uOttawa Gee-Gees. 


Just about the most exciting game of the RSEQ’s 2023 season took place in Quebec City on Nov. 4 when the Stingers football team faced the Université Laval Rouge et Or for the semi-finals. This time around, the Concordia team had a more even matchup, as the Stingers were facing a two-seed as a three-seed in the playoff bracket. ULaval did not play the dominant season everyone expected them to, as they had taken both of their losses to the Carabins, yet Concordia had beaten the latter in their last game of the season. This matchup was a real shootout. 

It started with a safety for Concordia heading into the third minute of the game, putting the Rouge et Or ahead by two points and setting the Stingers at a disadvantage. In the first drive of the second quarter, starting quarterback Oliver Roy threw an interception to Rouge et Or linebacker Justin Cloutier, who took it to Concordia’s 27-yard line. From there, a pass and a one-yard QB sneak took the Rouge et Or ahead by 9 points, then 10 due to a rouge point. 

Just as a 28-yard kick from all-star kicker Eric Maximuik seemed to restore momentum to the Stingers headed into the second half, substitute quarterback Adrian Guay decided to scramble around the halfway line and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the opponents’ cornerback Maxym Lavallée, who ran it to the house for 49 yards. Laval led 17-3 after the good kick attempt.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Olivier Roy had been back on the field, and managed to throw a stellar 20-yard pass to veteran fifth-year wideout Ezekiel Tiede for a touchdown. The game was on. The Rouge et Or replied with a 22-yard passing touchdown of their own to widen their lead to 14 points, but that didn’t stop the Stingers. 

Our field general put on a fourth quarter showcase. The very next play, Roy threw a bomb to his trusty wideout Tristan Mancini for 37 yards and then another to Tiede. A couple of handoffs to the running backs, and Roy found the endzone after an eight-yard run. The Stingers defense banded together to shut the Rouge et Or down for a drive amounting to less than 15 yards, and it was Roy’s chance again.

With two and a half minutes left of the game, Roy managed to lead a drive that lasted just over a minute and score a touchdown in six plays, topped by a pass to Tiede for 34 yards into the endzone. Not to mention Roy capped off his night by tying the game and by asserting his sixth point of the night out of six points attempted. The teams tied 24-24 at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately, the Stingers did not have it in them to maintain the progress that they’d made over 60 minutes. A couple of 40+ yard field goals and a touchdown from the Rouge et Or, and Concordia’s season was over. 

A few Stingers players had performances to remember, despite overall shortcomings. Roy had 310 passing yards and the third most rushing yards on the field with 51. Defensively, middle linebacker Loïk Gagné dominated the game with 9.5 tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss. The whole receiver core should be recognized for the work they all put in, Tiede especially. 

It’s an exciting year to be a Concordia fan, although the ending may sting. All three of these teams surpassed what was expected of them. The future seems bright!

Football Rugby Sports

Concordia Stingers Legends Inducted into Stingers Sports Hall of Fame

Concordia held their annual Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sept. 24

At the downtown Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile Hotel, the Concordia Stingers’ annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place in front of hundreds. Concordia alumni were inducted by different categories with current students in the crowd to support. In this year’s ceremony, Concordia inducted four athletes, one builder, and one team. 

On the ballot, an “athlete” is defined as a student-athlete who displayed outstanding athletic performances in their respective sport. A “builder” is an individual, coach or administrator who had a positive impact on Concordia athletics. A “team” is a roster in Stingers history that will be remembered for their performance and significant contributions to its sport.

Dave Miller-Johnston (left) with his Hall of Fame plaque. Photo courtesy of Joe Dresner.

On that 1998 Stingers football team was Dave Miller-Johnston, one of the athlete inductees in this year’s ceremony. Miller-Johnston went down in Concordia sports history after kicking the Atlantic Cup-winning field goal to send the Stingers to their first National Championship Final. While Miller-Johnston was the MVP following the game-winning kick with a minute remaining, he credited his teammates and coaches for the team’s success in his acceptance speech. “To my teammates–though it is me receiving this award today, this is really a shared celebration,” Miller-Johnston said emotionally. “We did this together. Winning or losing on and off the football field, we kept pushing each other. I want to thank you for inspiring me, pushing me and challenging me.”

Then there was Richard Mackay, graduate of Concordia in 1958 and athlete inductee in 2023. Mackay is known for his contribution to the 1957-58 men’s basketball team, then known as the Sir George Williams College Georgians, who won their fourth championship overall. That team, coached by the legendary Mag Flynn, got inducted into the Stingers Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. To honour his late coach, Mackay made generous donations to the basketball team since 2021 totalling $200,000.

Sheila Turner was the next athlete to be inducted in this year’s ceremony. As a member of the women’s rugby team between 1992 and 1994, Turner won provincial championships in all three years she played for Concordia. The 1994 team that Turner was a part of also got inducted this year. They were the only team to hold this honour in 2023. Turner graduated from Concordia in 1995, then went on to coach the Stingers in 1996, bringing more success and championships to the school in later years.

Inducted as an athlete in 2011, George Lengvari is now in the Hall of Fame as a builder in 2023. As part of the 1962-63 Loyola men’s basketball team, Lengvari helped the team with the first annual Ottawa-St. Lawrence title that season. Once he graduated in 1963, Lengvari paid back his time at Concordia as well as at McGill University. In 2021, Lengvari donated $1 million to each of his alma maters’ basketball programs in hopes of growing the sport at both institutions. Lengvari goes down in Concordia history as the only member of the Stingers Sports Hall of Fame inducted as a builder, athlete and team member.

To conclude the ceremony, Carol Ann Tull was inducted into the hall of fame as an athlete. Tull played on the Stingers women’s basketball team between 1996 and 2000, winning an award as the Defensive Player of the Year, as well as two Most Valuable Player awards in Quebec women’s basketball. In her acceptance speech, Tull thanked her teammates and coaches for all they did to get her to this point. Tull, a university sports legend and an inspiration to many, shared this note of motivation to close out her speech: “Together, we have proven that when passion aligns with purpose, any individual can achieve the most extraordinary feat.”

All the inductees should be proud of accomplishing the achievements they did. Their contributions to the Stingers are now etched in Concordia University history.

Rugby Sports

Stingers’ Women’s Rugby Team confident for a winning Year amid coaching Shuffle

Coach Jocelyn Barrieau to be replaced during the 2024 Olympic run.

The 2023-2024 season is looking bright for the Stingers’ women’s rugby squad. Although there’s been some restlessness in the coaching staff, the team not only seems to be in great hands under new interim coach Craig Beemer, but according to long-time teammates, this is the best women’s rugby team to wear the Concordia colorway in years.

It was announced in early April that head coach Jocelyn Barrieau had been selected to train the women’s Canadian senior rugby seven-a-side team for the NextGen Rugby Americas North Sevens. Pulling through with a final 53-0 win over Mexico in Langford, B.C. on August 20, the team qualified to move on to play in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

When coach Barrieau started her career with the Stingers in 2018 in the RSEQ women’s rugby league, four of the eight teams’ training staff were led by women. Today, she is the only female head coach.

Since coach Barrieau will be absent for a majority of the season,  Beemer was introduced as a replacement. A friend and associate of Barrieau, Beemer has an extensive rugby coaching resume. He became the head coach of McGill’s rugby team in 2007 after assisting for two years. In 2014, the Ontario native was offered an opportunity to coach for the men’s rugby team at Concordia, and led the Stingers to a championship. Beemer remained with the Stingers ever since.

“Big sigh of relief for me to have someone here who I know cares about the Stingers, that I know cares about the student athletes and also cares about the game of Rugby,” Barrieau said.  “I’m super happy that Craig decided to be involved.” 

Captain Mahalia Robinson is satisfied with the interim’s efforts to not stray too far away from the old plan. To her, coach Beemer is keeping Barrieau’s core values from over the past four-five years.  “He’s doing a good job of keeping that and also adding his own. So it’s a mix of the two,” says the leader. “Even after she’s gone, I hope that we can still draw on her energy, because she drives this team and is the core of this team even if she’s gone.”

Beemer strongly believes that the team’s progress won’t stagger long thanks to their symbiosis and the reigning HC staying close to her team. “I can walk in, punch in and bring my strengths into the program, ” coach Beemer remarked. “When I punch back out and [Barrieau] slots back in I don’t think the program will miss a beat.”

Jocelyn Barrieau (left) and Craig Beemer (right)

Last year, the team finished the season with a 3-3 record. Since the start of training camp on August 17, it seems new training methods were brought to the table.  “I think Beemer is bringing a lot of experience in terms of winning, which we haven’t had, so it’s nice to have different perspectives of what it takes as a team to win,” Robinson added.

Robinson scored 55 points last season, which is more than half of what 6th place Université de Sherbrooke managed to break as a team at 90 points. She is a product of the strong leadership values that Barrieau has cultivated over her tenure with the Stingers.

Coach Beemer appreciates that his predecessor set high standards within the oraganization. “It’s really important to [Barrieau] that players take ownership of certain aspects in our program, which builds leaders, whether it’s on or off the field,” he adds. To him, its about putting in work on the field every week, and less about winning or losing. So far, the new coach is impressed with the team’s attitude and effort over the past two weeks.

Maxine O’Leary, a third-year number eight majoring in Communications, adds that the senior players, including herself, look forward to passing on some of their own insight to the rookie players. “We want to grow the game and leave it better than we found it,” she said. “It’s about building for next year, when we leave, whenever that is. We want the program to stay the same and for the newcomers to take on those leadership roles.”

To the team, the most important game of the season is the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup, held in honor of the titular Stingers alumnus, who sadly passed away in 2004 in a domestic confrontation. Her mother, Doreen Haddad, is beloved in the Quebec rugby community for charitably starting the Kelly-Anne Drummond scholarship in 2019, whichis given to outstanding full-time Concordia student players.

“It’s our biggest game of the year,” emphasizes Robinson. “It’s the only one that we really have to win, it’s unacceptable to lose and this is the game where we show the most love on the field because we know what it means to be more than a team and be friends and be family. That’s how we play at the Kelly-Anne.

         This year’s legendary cup game will be played on Wednesday, September 6 at 8 p.m. The Stingers aim to surpass last year’s achievement of out-scoring McGill 55-3.  As for the rest of the season, expectations are high, and there’s a visible hunger around the squad to go 6-0.

“This is the best training camp that I’ve been at for the past three years so overall the energy’s super high from day one,” Maxine O’Leary said. “Everyone’s fighting for a jersey. And I think that’s a big difference, everyone’s fighting for a spot for the team.”



Luca Milne is ready to say goodbye to Concordia

The men’s rugby fly half looks back on his Stingers career

On Oct. 22, the Stingers’ men’s rugby team played their last game of the season. The 36-29 loss against the Ottawa Gee-Gees meant that for a few graduating players like Luca Milne, a fourth-year political science student, their career with Concordia was officially over.

The starting fly-half had been with the team since he first came to Concordia in 2019, when he was 17 years old. Coming from Ireland, he had never set foot in Canada before.

“Rugby is a lot bigger in Ireland than it is here. I started in high school, when I was about 12,” Milne recalled.

Milne grew up playing soccer and never even considered playing rugby at first.

“My dad played rugby, so he dragged me onto the pitch. I didn’t even want to play when I first saw it. He literally just forced me to play and I had no other choice. That was basically it and I just didn’t stop,” he chuckled.

Milne also noted how rugby facilitated his transition from Ireland to Canada, as well as from high school to university.

“I was really young during my first year,” he said. “I came in a team with a lot of older guys, but I never had any problems. Everyone was very nice and they helped me settle in really well.”

Team captain Stan Blazkowski, who started alongside Milne, looked back on his teammate’s rugby debut.

“He looked like he was still a kid. He wasn’t speaking much and spent his first two games on the development team,” Blazkowski recalled. “Then, he had one good game and the coaches thought it would be a good idea to bring him in on the first team. He had another great game and he’s been our starting #10 ever since.”

That season, the Stingers went on to win the RSEQ championship.

Throughout his three seasons with the Stingers, which would have been four if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, Milne grew to be more comfortable with his role as a fly-half, which he only claimed at Concordia.

“He became more vocal,” said Blazkowski. “Basically, he’s like the quarterback of the team and needs to give a lot of orders, which he wasn’t really comfortable — or used to — [doing] in his first season.”

“The main aspect he improved is communication; the rest, he already had it. The rugby skills and everything, he came with it,” Blazkowski continued.

Milne also felt like his performance over the years improved.

“This year was the first one in which I was able to score a couple tries,” said Milne, who ended the season as the second-best scorer, only eight points behind Blazkowski. “I think I really made progress every year. I always try to improve my game and learn more.”

But for him, what stands out is the close bonds he made with his teammates.

“I’ve played with some of these players for four years, we’ve gone through a lot together,” he said with a hint of nostalgia. “I’m not just never going to see them again. They’re definitely friends for life and we’re always going to remember the days we had on the pitch.”

“Rugby was a huge part of my university life,” he continued. “I spent four days a week training and then, a game on the weekend, and that was every fall for the last four years, so it’s weird now not training anymore,” he said. “I feel restless. I’ll have to keep playing rugby when I leave just to keep myself busy.”

But Milne is at peace with leaving Concordia as well as his beloved rugby team behind.

“Whenever I look back and think about my university life, the first thing that comes to mind is always going to be my rugby days. They have definitely been my most enjoyable and memorable days out of the lot.”


Ottawa 24, Concordia 12: Stingers come up short in competitive regular season finale

Concordia ends the regular season with a 2-4 record, will face Carleton in the opening round of the RSEQ playoffs

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team played their final game of the RSEQ regular season on Sunday afternoon, losing their second matchup against the Ottawa Gee-Gees by a 24-12 scoring margin. The Stingers secured the third seed in division A with the loss, ending the season with a 2-4 record and setting the stage for a quarterfinal matchup against Carleton next week.

Stingers head coach Jocelyn Barrieau said that she expects the upcoming playoff matchup to be competitive given the two teams’ recent history. 

“We have a big, physical matchup coming up against Carleton, we’re well aware of the physical nature of their game,” Barrieau said. “It’s also a rematch from the playoffs two years ago, so we know that they’ll be very fired up to come here and perform.”

The last time Ottawa and Concordia met on Oct. 2, the Stingers got shutout in a 50-0 loss on the road. Barrieau said she wanted her team to focus on the little things ahead of their second meeting of the season.

“One of our big points of emphasis this year is continuing to work on our trust in each other, in everyone’s abilities to do their jobs. Coming into today, we also changed our warmup routine, so it was those types of little adjustments that led to the better results on the field,” said Barrieau. 

The Stingers seized control of the game early, registering a try in the opening minutes of the match. Ottawa responded quickly with a try of their own, tying the game at 5-5 after both teams failed their conversion attempts. The score would remain tied through the opening 20 minutes as both sides struggled to establish their footprint on the game. 

Ottawa was able to impose their will on Concordia to end the first half, notching a pair of tries to head into halftime leading 19-5. Stingers forward Shawna Brayton would register a try at the 59 minute mark, briefly setting the stage for a potential Concordia comeback. However, a late try by Ottawa front row Anna Dodge put the game out of reach. Gee-Gees back Alexandra Ondo and Stingers back Emma Gallagher were named MVP for their respective teams. 

Barrieau said the team’s training schedule heading into the playoffs will prioritize recovery with less contact than usual. 

“This game was very physical, and we know next week will be too, so our goal is to try and keep our girls fresh.”

The Stingers will host the Carleton Ravens in the RSEQ playoff quarterfinals this Friday at Concordia Stadium.


Photograph by Aashka Tarun


A most unusual finish: rounding off a Stingers career during a pandemic

Cancellation of sports seasons means possible university career endings for senior athletes

Sports are on hold once again and Concordia’s student athletes are learning to cope with the disappointment of time lost on the playing field or the arena. Among those are fourth and fifth-year athletes, who are spending their last moments with the Concordia Stingers in limbo.

Audrey Belzile, fifth-year forward with the women’s hockey team, has been spending time at her family’s cottage outside of Montreal to escape the province’s hotspot, and is hoping for a season after Christmas.

“It’s tough because I chose to do a fifth year to focus on school and hockey,” Belzile said. “Now, there’s no hockey or training for a while, so I am just here with school. At least it’s keeping me busy.”

Belzile was hoping to cap off four successful years with the Stingers with a fifth and final season. Before joining the Stingers, the plan had been to go to a Division 1 NCAA school, but when that didn’t work out, she settled on Concordia because of the inclusive team culture.

All the staff and girls were super welcoming,” Belzile said. “That was the biggest difference for me between Concordia [and other schools]. I felt welcome the first day I was in the rink.”

Three Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) all star teams, two U Sports All-Canadian teams, a provincial championship, and a national bronze medal later, she said it has turned out to be a great decision.

The men’s rugby team also has to face the reality of the cancelled sports season. Jackson Marquardt, fifth-year veteran on the team, said he was “a little thrown-off” by the fact that practices were able to resume for the better part of September, as sports were allowed at that time in the province, but then had to be shut down again when red zone restrictions were put in place in October.

Like many students, the Ottawa native took refuge back home to focus on school, and while it’s nice to be busy, he said it’s tough being away from his usual rhythm.

“I miss playing rugby, and every single aspect of competing with the team,” Marquardt said. “It also feels like I’m missing out on a ‘what could have been’ season … especially after missing out on nationals last year.”

Marquardt has accumulated an impressive resume over his time as a Stinger athlete. After just one year of university rugby, he was invited to go on tour with Team Canada U19. He then followed it up with two All-Canadian nominations, as well as three RSEQ championships and two all-star team selections over the course of three seasons with men’s rugby. Marquardt spoke highly of the Concordia environment, including the coaching he received.

It’s some of the best coaching you can get in Canada and it was right at my university,” Marquardt said. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done in rugby so far if I’d gone anywhere else.”

For student athletes, the time spent playing sports for their university will always be precious. It’s the culmination of years of development and growth as an athlete. As I’m writing this piece, I know my time spent as a Stinger will always be one that I look back on with immense pride and gratitude.

Concordia has a small athletics community compared to some universities, but this is often its greatest strength. Daily interactions with other teams and coaches are almost frequent and almost unavoidable (the hallways of our complex are quite narrow), but it’s how the Stinger culture has been formed over the years.

So for the sake of personal memories and great Concordia sporting moments, I hope these athletes didn’t finish their university careers last season, without even knowing it.


Photos courtesy of Audrey Belzile and Jackson Marquardt


A look back at Craig Beemer’s years with the Stingers

The Stingers won four Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) championships with Beemer as head coach.

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team will start its next Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season with a new head coach. The Concordia Stingers announced last month that Craig Beemer has stepped down from his head coaching duties for personal reasons.

The Stingers have been one of the most dominant Canadian university rugby teams in recent years. The team won four of the last six RSEQ championships, and participated to the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) the past three seasons. Beemer was a member of the coaching staff for all those RSEQ championships and CUMRC participations.

Beemer started coaching rugby when he joined McGill University men’s rugby team as an assistant coach. He was asked by the team’s head coach to join the program after he graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Education in 2005.

After eight championship seasons with McGill, Beemer stepped away from his coaching job with McGill in 2013, as he went to China that year. When he came back to Montreal, McGill had won the championship again. However, Beemer wanted to go back to coaching, and decided to post online to indicate his interest. Beemer was then approached by Clive Gibson, the Stingers head coach at the time, and took over leadership of the team  for the 2014-15 season.

“It was definitely a defining year,” Beemer said. “I was working at Loyola High School as a teacher [at the time]. I ended up coming out and helping out and coaching because I love to coach. It just happened to be the rivals [of the team I coached before]. It was very awkward to be honest. I was wearing Loyola High School gear the first game of the season, and the first game of the season was against McGill.”

Despite winning the RSEQ championship in his first season with his new team in 2014-15, Beemer said that year was a tough transition for him.

“It was pretty defining for me because all my success has been at one university [McGill],” Beemer said. “To change university [was significant]. I was fortunate that I had to take over as head coach.”

The next season was more challenging for Beemer and the Stingers. In 2015-16, Gibson made a comeback as head coach, and Beemer was back to being an assistant coach. The team finished the season with a 4-3 record, but lost their RSEQ quarter final game 19-18 against the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS) Piranhas.

“As an assistant coach, you’re not leading the ship,” Beemer said. “It was sometimes frustrating, but I was just doing the best as I could to help. 2015-16 was very difficult.”

Shortly before the 2016-17 season, Gibson retired. The Concordia Stingers Department of Recreation and Athletics announced a month later, which was also a month before the start of the season, that Beemer would take take over as new head coach.

Despite having been around since 2014 and having coached the Stingers that year during Gibson’s absence, 2016-17 had been more difficult for Beemer and his players. The team finished the season 1-6, and lost their RSEQ quarterfinal game 33-26 in overtime against the Bishop’s University Gaiters.

“We didn’t have as much talent [as the previous two seasons] in 2016-17,” Beemer said. “Progressing players went down with injuries in training camp before the season. It was a learning experience for every single person involved in the program. It was my first losing season ever.”

Beemer said despite being an incredibly tough season, it definitely helped him grow as a coach.

“Of all 12 seasons I coached [as head coach], it’s probably the one I’ve learned the most,” Beemer said. “I’m first to admit that you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.”

The next three seasons were all but similar to 2016-17 for the Stingers. Since that difficult year, the team hasn’t lost a single game in the RSEQ. However, it didn’t happen just by luck. Beemer said it was a very positive off-season in 2017.

“I think the biggest thing I overcame is the standards, [in the sense of] where my standards were and where those of the program were,” Beemer said. “It was difficult to bridge the gap. There were a lot of hard conversations, a lot of reflection on my part, concerning what I needed to do differently to bring in a different culture and things like that.”

Beemer explained that the change of culture was a big step forward at that time for the team. He said that people’s expectations might concern wins and losses, but as a team, when you’re with people you know almost every day, there are other expectations you need to have before you even get to play a game.

“The culture really had to take a shift,” Beemer said. “I think the easiest thing I used to tell the guys was ‘six on 10 is acceptable in other aspects of your life, but it’s not here. We’re looking to strive for perfection, and obviously that’s not something we’ll always obtain. We can start to be happy with eight or nine on 10. I wanted to figure out a way to install that culture that would be embraced by the players.”

Not only were the Stingers starting 2017-18 with a new culture, but they were also seeing many key players injured in 2016-17 return to the lineup. Beemer said the Stingers simply were a more talented team coming into the new season.

“Our players were much better,” Beemer said. “I had good coaches [with me]. We went to work in the off-season, and got a really great recruiting class in. The standards may not have been nine on 10, but they no longer were six on 10. The players really started to take ownership over the program. I wasn’t the only one leading at that point. They didn’t want to have a repeat of 2016-17.”

Beemer admitted that he probably didn’t expect his team to go undefeated three years ago. However, he said that he’s always been a fairly confident person who always trusted his abilities as a coach.

“I believe that if you put in the work and time, and that you’re blessed to have the abilities and skills, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be successful,” Beemer said. “Coming into 2017, was the [RSEQ championship] really a realistic goal after a 1-6 season? No, but the confidence and abilities of the staff and players, including the ones coming back from injury and the rookies, were much better. I told the players that the thing that matters is to win your last game.”

The Stingers entered the 2018-19 RSEQ season in the same position as they were in 2015-2016, as they were the league’s defending champions. This time for Beemer and the Stingers, the team succeeded to defend its title with another perfect season. The Stingers went to the CUMRC, held in Victoria, and finished in fourth place.

Beemer said the experience the Stingers acquired at the CUMRC in Guelph in 2017 was probably one of the best things that could have happened to them. He explained that it gave his players even more desire to work hard in the off-season in order to be better.

“As much as we had an amazing season in Quebec [in 2017-18], the national championship wasn’t great for us,” Beemer said. “We didn’t want to go back to the CUMRC and not perform. In 2018-19, there wasn’t really the pressure of the RSEQ, but there was the pressure of going to the CUMRC and being ready. At that point, it was just our own goals. If you’re already winning and still trying to get better every single week, there’s a good chance you’ll continue winning.”

Finally came this past season, Beemer’s last as head coach. This season was huge for the Stingers, as not only were they the RSEQ defending champions, but had been selected to host the third edition of the CUMRC, which was held this November at Concordia Stadium.

“We really wanted to take advantage of [hosting the CUMRC] and promote rugby in Quebec,” Beemer said. “It was a huge season in the sense that we had two undefeated seasons under our belt, and didn’t want to go down [at that point]. The guys played really well. The standards the players had settled the previous two years really shined through this year.”

Beemer said a thing that helped his rugby program develop in its recent championships is the number of players training and practicing with the team. People always saw the same players on the field for every game, but in reality there were around 60 players training with the Stingers every week.

“Those guys were training with us to make sure we were increasing competition in our own training session, and making it a competitive atmosphere in our program,” Beemer said. “That way, we’re always going to have a good senior and rookie mix. Rookies had to come and fight for their spot. We had a deep program of players that you won’t even see on game-day that were supporting and looking to take a spot the very next year, which is pretty cool.”

After all those years and the success he had with the team, Beemer said it’s hard to name one favourite, or perhaps a highlight moment of his time passed as head coach of the Stingers. However, he said the thing that will stand out the most for him is the change of culture, and change of attitude of the players over the years.

“I got complimented on how respectful our athletes were and about how incredibly clean it was when they left almost everywhere we went,” Beemer said. “I watched the program grow. It turned guys here who just wanted to play rugby into very successful and outstanding young men who can play rugby well.”

Feature photo by Laurence B.D.


Mid-year Stingers grades

It’s report card time for the 11 Stingers teams


Football: C+

A lot of the positives from this season came from the individual performances of key players.  Adam Vance threw for over 2,000 yards and was a Hec Crighton finalist. James Tyrrell emerged as one of the top receivers in U Sports, and has now signed a deal with the CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks. Jeremy Murphy was named the U Sports rookie of the year. Besides that, not too much worked for the Stingers on the field. The team’s defense struggled immensely, the offense faced consistency issues, and the team dropped winnable games against McGill, and ultimately posted the same record as last season. With many of his key players graduating this year, head coach Brad Collinson will have to push for another strong recruiting class.

-Matthew Coyte


Men’s Hockey: C-

Where to begin with this team? The season looked really promising after the first two weeks of the season. Then everything went south at the end of the fifth game (in which they actually won 6-5 in OT over Wilfrid Laurier). In the final moments of that game, Philippe Sanche, Alexander Katerinakis and Anthony Dumont-Bouchard all went down with injuries that have kept them out of the lineup ever since. Hockey is an unforgiving game and the Stingers’ 6-7-3 record is a reflection of that. Other teams don’t care about your injuries and you just have to deal with it. One of the bright spots however is rookie forward Tyler Hylland. Hylland has had a seamless transition from junior hockey to U-Sports, putting up 18 points in 16 games. The second half will be a better one for the team as they will be much healthier after the break but they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to have home-ice advantage in the playoffs – should they qualify.

-Matthew Ohayon


Women’s Hockey: A

I’m not sure what more you could ask for from this team. After 10 games, the team is 9-0-1 and has been the top ranked-team in U Sports for seven straight weeks. Head coach Julie Chu continues to elevate her veterans like Audrey Belzile and Claudia Dubois while recruiting rookies who have had an immediate impact like Emmy Fecteau and Léonie Philbert. This team generates an incredible amount of chances, and have managed to shut down the best teams in the RSEQ. Even their one loss was in a shootout in a game where they managed nearly 50 shots on net. Mix in superb goaltending from Alice Philbert and division-leading scorer Rosalie Bégin-Cyr and you have a team that just overwhelms opponents. The only reason I’m not giving them an A+ is because we’re only halfway through the season. The true test for this team begins in January.

-Matthew Coyte


Men’s Basketball: A-

There were some question marks around the Stingers after last season’s RSEQ Championship-winning season with Ricardo Monge and Garry Merrisier both leaving the team after graduating. Well, if the first six games of the season were any indication of how the Stingers are as a team, I’d say they are doing just fine with a 5-1 record. It is impossible to pinpoint one game breaker on the team but that is certainly no knock on them. In every one of their wins, it’s been a complete team win. Rookie Ali White and second year players Nathaniel Boisvert, Aleks Simeunovich and Tariq Barki Hamad have been pitching in off the bench as well. This is an incredibly deep and talented team that looks poised to repeat as RSEQ champions. It also helps when you have a very strong coaching staff that has their players buying into the team culture. U Sports needs to start giving this team, and conference, some more respect.

-Matthew Ohayon


Women’s Basketball: C+

The case of the women’s team is an interesting one. They are coming off a very strong season that saw them make an appearance in the nationals off the backs of their big three of Coralie Dumont, Caroline Task and U Sports rookie of the year, Myriam Leclerc. This year we’re seeing just how important Dumont was for this team as they hold a 2-3 record. Perhaps the most interesting of all their games was their 70-65 loss at Laval. The Stingers held the Rouge et Or to only five points in the opening quarter and got 20 points out of Sabrina Lineus who only totalled 24 minutes of playing time. The Stingers seem to be a little bit out of sync at the moment but they are a well coached squad who will certainly put it all together for the second half of the season.

Matthew Ohayon


Men’s Rugby: A+

It’s pretty hard to find negatives in the season that team just offered. The Stingers successfully defended their RSEQ title, winning the championship a third straight year. They played solid rugby all season, and everyone contributed to the team’s success. The Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) was played at Concordia this year, ensuring the team’s participation in the tournament regardless of their results in the RSEQ season. Yet, they proved they deserved their spot among the best of the country. They also played well at the CUMRC, winning their first game, and offering probably their best game of 2019 against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, despite the loss. The semi-final loss was a hard one to swallow, but I think the team can still be proud of their accomplishments this season.

-Alec Brideau


Women’s Rugby: A

It’s always great to see both men and women perform at such a high level at the same sport. After only two wins in seven games in 2018-19, as well as not making the RSEQ playoffs, the team bounced back with a perfect 6-0 season this year. The Stingers finished first in Section B and played through the RSEQ semi-final, where they lost 50-5 against the Université Laval Rouge et Or. It’s hard to give less than an A after that season.

-Alec Brideau


Men’s Wrestling: B

The men’s wrestling team has started their season well, clocking in at number 10 on the U Sports rankings three weeks running. While they’ve managed to stick around the national rankings, this is largely due to the team’s ability to grab points and not relying on individuals to carry the team. Only Aly Barghout (120 kg) and Julien Choquette (90 kg) are ranked members of the men’s wrestling team. Despite being slightly lower on the rankings than we’ve come to expect from this squad, don’t count them out yet. Wrestlers like fourth-year Francis Carter and Jordan Steen are a constant threat and are more than capable of lifting this team up the rankings.

-Matthew Coyte


Women’s Wrestling: B+

The woman’s wrestling team’s early success has come from its ability to get results from a number of different contributors. The team is led by fourth-year —and last year’s Stingers Female Athlete of the Year, Jade Dufour, but she’s not the only one winning matches. Kaleigh Prieur is fourth in the 48kg division, Laurence Beauregard is second in the 59kg division, plus Kaya Dube-Snow (55kg) and Amanda Savard (63kg) are first in their respective divisions. They’ve moved their way into the top three teams in U Sports, and their consistency will be key for success going forward.

-Matthew Coyte


Men’s Soccer: B

It was great to see the team participate in the RSEQ playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Stingers faced adversity all season, and had trouble winning consecutive games. However, they still finished the season in fourth place with a 3-4-5 record, and played in the semi-final of the playoffs. I give the team a B because of their respectable season. Also, I think their playoff participation was quite huge for the men’s soccer team. The team knew it was the first time in a while, which represented a step in the right direction for the program.

-Alec Brideau


Women’s Soccer: B-

It’s been a bit harder for the women’s team in soccer. Finishing the season 2-7-5, the Stingers only won against the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or this year. They managed to get an impressive 1-1 tie against the first-ranked UQAM Carabins, but such results weren’t enough to make the RSEQ playoffs. The team has talented players and great potential. Sometimes, it’s just about luck or little details. At some point, it should click for that team.

-Alec Brideau



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


“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.

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