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


Emily Magee comes back to familiar territory

Rugby forward had quite the journey since her first Stingers appearance

Concordia Stingers women’s rugby head coach Jocelyn Barrieau was surprised when her former player Emily Magee of the Dawson College Blues contacted her this summer, saying she wanted to rejoin the team this season.

Barrieau first coached Magee when she was the head coach of the Dawson College women’s rugby program, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. The Stingers’s website statistics might show that Magee’s at her fourth season with the team, but don’t get fooled. The St. Louis, Missouri native hasn’t played those four years consecutively.

“It’s been a bit of a wild journey you could say,” said Magee. “When I first came to Concordia, I was a pretty young athlete, as I was immature, and didn’t know how to train properly. I came to Concordia because I loved their communications program, but also because they had a really good rugby program.”

Yet, obstacles changed the course of Magee’s rugby career and life. She explained she wasn’t ready for what university came with, as she got overwhelmed by assignments and anxiety at times.

“I had a hard time finishing essays and even simple assignments [when I started university],” Magee said. “I even had essays I never handed in. I finished them on time, but never handed them in because they weren’t good enough for [my personal expectations]. I then stopped playing rugby for two years. I just didn’t play at all.”

Those two years off the field, where she spent her time doing things like playing video games, pushed Magee to get her rugby career back on track. She said she didn’t recognize herself, as she’s always been very active in life.

“I hit a rock bottom, especially regarding my mental health,” said Magee. “It pushed [me to change] and fix something because things [weren’t] working for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing for Canada, U.S.A., or just nationally. That was kind of a push to try, because [when I stopped], there was nothing happening with myself. I had nothing to lose, and see what happens.”

Since then, Magee traveled around the world and played rugby for several elite teams, including in the U.S.A. and New Zealand. Now at age 29 and with a lot of rugby experience, Magee said this was the perfect time for her to come back to Concordia to finish what she started.

“I’m not a Canadian citizen, I’m a permanent resident,” said Magee. “Over a five-year period, I have to live two in Canada. I traveled a lot in the last five years, and had to come back in March to start making up some days. When I came back to Canada, I thought it was the perfect time to complete my remaining credits, and put my degree behind me to close that chapter. I then thought of Barrieau [and the rugby team here], who coached me at Dawson College.”

The Stingers forward added that her game has completely changed since her first rugby experience. She explained that her skillsets were very limited at first.

“I could just run fast,” said Magee. “I couldn’t really pass or tackle. I’ve been naturally gifted athletically, but all of my skills I had to develop and work on. By getting older, I had to push myself because at the end of the day, you need to grow your own game.”

Barrieau said the team knew that Magee’s presence and talent would be felt quickly. She explained that the positivity and energy the forward brings to the team is unique.

“Not everybody can bring such things [the way Magee does],” said Barrieau. “The experience she brings to our team is huge as well, as she’s matured by playing, traveling and looking to others [these past years]. She’s learned and matured a lot on the field.”

After missing the Stingers first two games of the 2019-2020 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season, Magee registered five tries, 25 points and one nomination as the most valuable player (MVP) of the game in two matches. She said that if her hard work these past years paid off, one thing she’ll always keep in mind that is that the key to success is to have fun doing what you do. She added that’s exactly how she feels with the Stingers.

“Barrieau’s creating such an awesome team culture,” Magee said. “It creates an [environment] where you can make mistakes. You can fail, and it’s not the end of the world to do so. Having the freedom to make those mistakes, have a bad game and not make great decisions all the time makes it so much easier for me to just play the game. I’m honestly so grateful to have the opportunity to come back. I’m really proud of what I’ve been through and where I am now with rugby. It’s a dream come true.”

Feature photo by Laurence B.D.


A look at the 2018 Stingers all-stars

Men’s rugby highlights individual accolades by Concordia athletes

The 2018 fall varsity season is coming to an end, and Concordia saw its athletes in football, soccer, and rugby represent the Stingers with pride. Some teams did better than others, while some athletes were recognized for their stellar performances. Here’s a breakdown of all the Stingers all-stars winners and Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) award-winners for the fall season.

Men’s rugby

Being the only Stingers team to win their championship this fall season, it’s no surprise the men’s rugby team have the most all-stars. Out of the 14 first-team all-stars, seven are Stingers: Stephen Martinez, Julian Alexander, Charles Debove, Thomas Goetz, Jackson Marquardt, Eliott Goussanou, and Lucas Hotton. Surprisingly, none of these players won any of the individual awards.

On the second all-star team, Dylan MacDonald, Michael Laplaine-Pereira, Jérome Lévesque, and Jonathan Banks represent the Stingers.

After winning their second-straight RSEQ championship, the Stingers finished fourth at nationals in Victoria, B.C.

Women’s rugby

Under new head coach Jocelyn Barrieau, the Stingers just missed the playoffs with a 2-5 record. The women’s rugby team was young—out of 28 players on the team, 21 were in their first or second year, with only two fifth-years.

Despite the amount of younger players, fourth-year veteran back Lia Hoyte was the Stingers’s sole representative on the first all-star team. Two of the other team’s backs, second-year Shawna Brayton and first-year Jasmine Baxter, were on the second all-star team.


Like the women’s rugby team, the Stingers football team had a new head coach this season. Brad Collinson faced plenty of challenges, as the team went 2-6, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in five years.

The football team had two stars shining bright this season. Offensive lineman Maurice Simba and wide receiver Jarryd Taylor both made the first all-star team. Simba is draft-eligible for both the NFL and CFL, and will be one of the first players from a Canadian university to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January. Taylor led the league in receiving with 527 yards on 24 catches with two touchdowns.

Assistant coach Peter Regimbald, who was in his 50th and final season with the Stingers, also won the RSEQ’s assistant coach of the year award. He has been with the team since they were still known as the Loyola Warriors.

Women’s soccer midfielder Chama Sedki made the RSEQ second all-star team. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.
Women’s soccer

Following the theme of new coaches, the women’s soccer team, in their first season under Greg Sutton, finished with a 4-9-1 record, 13 points out of a playoff spot. Regardless, it’s tied for the most wins they’ve had in a season since 2013.

Even though forward Sarah Humes and defender Claudia Asselin finished tied ninth in league scoring with five goals each, only midfielder Chama Sedki made the second all-star team. Sedki played in 12 games, scoring three goals and adding three assists.

Men’s soccer

On the men’s side, the Stingers had their worst season since 2014, finishing with a 1-10-1 record. It’s at least one win better than their winless season four years ago. Forward Yazid Dawiss led the team with two goals, while eight other players had one goal each. No players made the RSEQ all-star teams.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.


Women’s rugby ends season with loss at home

Head coach Barrieau already looking forward to next season

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team lost 50-29 in a hard-fought game to the Sherbrooke Vert et Or at home on Oct. 12. This was the Stingers’s last game of the season, as they did not make the playoffs.

The Stingers kept the game close through the first half, down 22-12 at halftime. The Vert et Or scored two minutes into the second half to extend their lead to 17 points. The Stingers managed to get two tries within the next 10 minutes to cut the lead to five points. 

The Stingers continued to play hard and kept it close for some time, but their opponents quickly took momentum, and the win, with three quick tries that put the game out of reach.

“Overall we played a good game and there is positive to look up on,” said head coach Jocelyn Barrieau.

Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Barrieau, in her first year as head coach, said she is very proud of her team. “We are in a transition year, where most of this group will stay together,” she said. “We have one fifth year and a fourth year who will be leaving. The rest will all be here next year.”

The players are also really proud of their performance. “It was a rebuild year, and the girls’ commitment was amazing,” said second-year forward Emily Kyte. “Sure, the results were not there like last year, but with us being a young team, we have the potential to become a better team as we grow together.”

One player that impressed Barrieau this season was rookie Kristine Trafford. “[She] was a great captain for the younger girls and was responsible for the equipment every game,” Barrieau said. “Her leadership impressed me a lot.”

“I’m very excited for next season—it will be a fun year,” Barrieau added.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier. 


Resilient Stingers fall to Rouge et Or

Tess Armstrong scored her first try of the season

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team lost 41-19 to the Université de Laval Rouge et Or on Sunday afternoon. The Stingers’s record has fallen to 2-2 on the season.

After the opening 20 minutes of the game, the Stingers were down 24-0. They gave up one more try before first-year back Jasmine Baxter scored a try in the last minute of the half, cutting the lead to 29-5.

“I was just looking behind me when I intercepted it and saw I had two people on me, so I knew I had to touch it down,” said Baxter on describing what went through her mind on her way to score. This was her sixth try of the season.

The Rouge et Or scored two other tries early in the second half. The Stingers’s defence tightened up, allowing Concordia to score two tries of their own. Second-year forward Tess Armstrong scored her first try of the season in the game.

The Stingers outscored the Rouge et Or 14-12 in the second half. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

“It feels great to have scored that try,” said Armstrong. “We played a great game at the end which helped me get the try. I’m proud of the girls for not giving up, especially in a rebuild season.”

Head coach Jocelyn Barrieau said she wants her players to be positive so “nobody falls alone,” and that this game was an example of their character.

“After being down by that much so quickly in the game, it was a shock to the girls,” said Barrieau. “[Baxter]’s try definitely gave us some momentum. It was an individual score, but it was team’s defence that caused it, making for team effort.”

Rouge et Or head coach Kévin Rouet said he wished his team finished the game stronger. “We got too loose and allowed the other team to get back into the game,” Rouet said. “We will take the win, but we will need to work on finishing.”

The Stingers’s next game is on Oct. 5 away against the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad. 


Jocelyn Barrieau is teaching at all levels

Former Stinger takes what she learns from coaching to her teaching

In July 2018, the Concordia Stingers named Jocelyn Barrieau the head coach of the women’s rugby team. With that, Barrieau’s career has come full circle.

Barrieau played rugby at the university level for five seasons, with the first four at McGill. She came to Concordia to play for the Stingers in 2011, to pursue her dream of playing for the Canadian national team, which never panned out. She did help the Stingers reach the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final. They lost in the final against the Université de Laval Rouge et Or. “It was definitely a good year and good experience for me,” Barrieau said.

While playing at the university level, she also coached the Dawson Blues women’s rugby team from 2007 to 2011, winning four championships. She’s also been a skills coach with the Stingers men’s rugby team since 2013. Having coached at the CÉGEP level, and now as a head coach at the university level, Barrieau said there’s a big difference between the two.

“CÉGEP is important, but [university] is a pretty important part of people’s lives because they’re really figuring out what path they’re taking,” Barrieau said. “It’s a pretty intense time, and to throw on the fact that you’re a varsity athlete on top of all the stuff that’s going on is a pretty big load.”

She also added that players are more mature at the university level, and are better organized with school. “All that stuff is a practice run in CÉGEP and it’s a bigger task here,” Barrieau said.

Barrieau addresses her players following the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup on Sept. 16. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Barrieau also said there’s added benefits to coaching at Concordia versus at Dawson. “The support from the university is unbelievable,” the first-year head coach said. “At Dawson we were supported, but even just having a locker room, field, and our own space [here at Concordia] is amazing.”

When the Stingers hired Barrieau, she said her goal as a coach was to make sure her players have a 100 per cent graduation rate. She said she’s working with Craig Beemer, the head coach of the men’s rugby team, and the Stingers’s academic coordinator, to make sure the players’ academic needs are fulfilled.

“One of the big things for me is to try to see and identify problems [players might be having] before they happen,” Barrieau said. The head coach also said she understands the overwhelming pressure of being a student-athlete. After all, Barrieau was one herself.

“People have been there and it’s important to talk about it,” Barrieau said. “If people are willing to talk, I am willing to listen […] Maybe they even just need a night off training to sleep.”  

Outside of Concordia, Barrieau is also a high school teacher at Laval Junior Academy, and is teaching eighth grade French this year. She’s been teaching in the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board for a decade now.

“At that point in their lives, students are much younger and are still figuring themselves out in a different way than the athletes here,” Barrieau said. “There are some drive differences too. School is not for every kid and those kids kind of get pushed to the side, but in university, everyone tries to be more inclusive because they want to be here.”

The way I am on the field is quite similar to how I am in the classroom,” Barrieau added. She said the majority of skills she uses as a teacher come from coaching, such as “time management, organizational skills, clarity and communication, love and compassion, drive, desire and competitiveness.”   

As a rookie head coach, Barrieau deals with a young Stingers team. A handful of veterans left the team, most notably Frédérique Rajotte and Alex Tessier. Rajotte was the Stingers’s female athlete of the year, and was named U Sports MVP for the 2017 season. On this year’s team, out of 28 players, there are 21 in their first or second season, with only two fifth-years.

“We had a pretty big turnover rate so [the challenges are] getting people up to speed on our basic concepts, vocabulary and systems,” Barrieau said. “We’re not starting from scratch, but close to it. We’re a very young team so we also don’t have tons of on-field and game experience.”

Barrieau is happy to have Alex Tessier (pictured) join her coaching staff. Tessier graduated from the team last year. Archive photo by Alex Hutchins.

Although Tessier graduated from the team at the end of last season, she joined Barrieau’s staff to work as an assistant coach this season. Barrieau said Tessier offered to give back to the women’s rugby program as soon as she finished playing for the team, and is excited to have her.

“I don’t have enough nice things to say about Alex Tessier,” Barrieau said. “Having her here is amazing because she has such a high level of rugby knowledge […] She’s just a real, quality person to have around.”

The Stingers women’s rugby team started the season with a win and a loss, and won the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup on Sept. 16 against McGill.   

Main photo by Hannah Ewen. 


Stingers win in emotional Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup

The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team outplayed the McGill Martlets in the 14th annual Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup on Sept. 16 at the Concordia Stadium. The Stingers won with a final score of 51-24.

“It has always been the most important game for me, whether I was involved or not,” an emotional Barrieau said following the game. “I really care about this rugby community and I hope we all stand by each other and support each other.”

Kelly-Anne Drummond played for the Stingers from 1999 to 2001 and was a highly-valued member of the team and respected by all. She was killed by her boyfriend in 2004–the Cup has been named in her honour. Ticket sales and donations from Sunday’s game will be sent to Women Aware, a non-profit organization against domestic violence. This year, Concordia tried to raise funds to start a Kelly-Anne Drummond scholarship.

The women’s rugby team believes the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup is the most important game of the season. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup has been a symbol of rugby supremacy in Montreal, with Concordia always playing McGill or Université de Montréal. It means so much more to the rugby community at Concordia than just a game.

“For us this cup, it is really important,” said coach Jocelyn Barrieau following the game. “It matters for Concordia and all of us to honor Kelly-Anne. We’ve had Kelly-Anne’s parents here to speak to the girls and did a lot with our alumni this week to show the girls what it means to play in this game.”

It didn’t take long for the Stingers to set the tone of the game. Back Jasmine Baxter found her way through traffic to get a try only 59 seconds into the game. From then, a scoring slugfest between both the Martlets and Stingers continued. Although Concordia did manage to put up points first, McGill always stayed within range of the lead.

The flow of the game then shifted to quick responses by the Stingers. Both times the Martlets scored in the first half, it took only five minutes for a Stingers response. By the end of the first half, five different Stingers had been able to put points on the board and the team held a fifteen-point lead.

“This game is the most important game of the season,” said second-year player Shawna Brayton. “Not just for me but for everyone else. It’s just a memorable game and we had to win this game. It’s a must for the season.”

The Stingers beat the Martlets 51-24 and improve their record to 2-1. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Martlets came out swinging in the second half and scored on their first drive, two minutes in. That would, however, be the closest McGill would come to the lead, as Stingers forward Samantha Molnar responded with her second try of the game to start a blistering scoring run.

“We came out and played really well as a team today,” Molnar said. “Playing together with my sisters is one of the best feelings we can have, especially to bring back the cup, which we lost last year.”

The remainder of the second half proved to be too much for the Martlets, who failed to score for the remaining 30 minutes of play. On the contrary, Concordia racked up another three tries to seal the deal.

By the end of the game, seven different Stingers had contributed to the scoring, with only Brayton and Molner finding the try zone on two occasions.

The win brings the women’s rugby team to a 2-1 record heading into the halfway point of the season.

The Stingers women’s rugby team will take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Concordia on Sept. 22.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.


Stingers make multiple staff changes heading into new year

Two former student-athletes hired for coaching positions

There are new faces on the Concordia Stingers coaching staff this season, as the organization had a busy summer making staff changes.

The Stingers’s adventurous search for a football head coach came to an end this summer. Last January, head coach Mickey Donovan left the team to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a special teams coordinator. His brother Pat took over as interim head coach, but left in May to join his brother with the Alouettes, as the director of football operations.

This left the football team without a coach in late-May, but after Pat’s departure, it was quickly announced that former Stinger Brad Collinson would take over as head coach. Athletics director D’Arcy Ryan said he knew about Collinson’s history as a coach, and had included him as a candidate when Mickey left in January, so it wasn’t a hard decision.

“When the time came [to find a new head coach], it was an easy phone call to make to discuss the position with him over a cup of coffee,” Ryan said.

Collinson played for the Stingers as an offensive lineman from 2000 to 2002, and captained the team. He played one season with the Alouettes in 2003 before going back to Concordia as a part-time assistant coach in 2004, and stayed on staff with the Stingers until 2010.

“We always want to be competitive,” Ryan added on what he expects from Collinson. “But he’s inheriting someone’s team and didn’t have time to recruit, so we’re looking for a culture change.”

The women’s soccer team will have a new coach for the first time in 16 years. Archive photo by Alex Hutchins.

The Stingers also hired another former player to lead the women’s rugby team. Jocelyn Barrieau last played for the Stingers in 2011, and has been the skills coach for men’s team since 2013. She coached the Dawson Blues women’s rugby team to four championships from 2007 to 2011. As head coach, she says she wants to focus on her athletes’ academics.

“The first goal is to ensure a 100 per cent graduation rate,” she told the Stingers’s website after she was hired in July.

Finally, Jorge Sanchez has left his position as head coach of the women’s soccer team after 16 years. Instead of getting a direct replacement for Sanchez, Greg Sutton, who’s been the men’s head coach since 2013, will be in control of both teams. Ryan said the idea to have Sutton as master coach came up about a year ago, and after candidates for the women’s coaching position dropped out, the Stingers approached Sutton to take control of both teams.

Not only does Ryan want Sutton to develop players, but also management. “We’re looking for Sutton to really grow his staff and develop assistant coaches,” Ryan said.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins. 


Representing Canada with pride

From Concordia to the national rugby team, Frédérique Rajotte and Alex Tessier share their experience

When Frédérique Rajotte saw Canadian fans cheering for her following a Women’s Rugby World Cup match in Dublin, Ireland, she started crying.

“I thought, ‘Wow this is so special,’” Rajotte said. “My parents were there with my sister and her husband. So [my family and the fans being there] was really special, and you just felt the pride.”

Rajotte, a fifth-year centre with the Concordia Stingers, played for Canada in the Women’s Rugby World Cup this summer. Alex Tessier, another fifth-year centre with the Stingers, joined Rajotte on the journey to represent their country.

“It’s always such an honour [to represent Canada],” said Tessier, who has played for Team Canada before at various levels. “It’s always so special to play at the highest level. It’s hard to describe.”

Tessier and Rajotte traded in their standard Stingers maroon and gold for the Canadian red and white for almost the entire month of August. The two Concordia students are roommates in Montreal and were roommates in Ireland. They agreed it was a special experience to have each other there.

“Our connection is strong on the field and off the field,” Tessier said. “It’s always good having confidence in someone.”

“Having Alex [there], there’s kind of a sense of home,” Rajotte said.

Frédérique Rajotte carries the ball against the Carleton Ravens at Concordia Stadium on Sept. 17. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Twelve teams participated in the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which is played once every three years. Even though the two Stingers were surrounded by players from all around the world, they said they kept to themselves.

“You always think [the World Cup] is going to be a lot of socializing,” Rajotte said. “But we didn’t interact with other teams. Not saying we were anti-social or rude about it, but we were very focused on ourselves, and we had a team-first mentality.”

“I’m not the most outgoing person,” Tessier added, “so I didn’t meet players from other teams. But it was cool to be all together and see other cultures—like the New Zealand culture is something different.”

Before each game, New Zealand rugby teams—known as the All Blacks for their all-black uniforms—perform the traditional Haka dance, which is unique in the world of rugby. According to Tourism New Zealand, the Haka originates from the Maori people, who are indigenous to New Zealand. The Maori performed the Haka in preparation of war, to symbolize the tribe’s pride, strength and unity.

The Haka tradition was passed down from armies to New Zealand’s rugby teams, who try to intimidate their opponents with the dance before each match. The Canadian team had to face the Haka before their match against New Zealand on Aug. 17.

It’s impressive at first, but you just have to focus on your game,” Tessier said. “It doesn’t affect you, it can’t affect you.”

Rajotte added that while Team Canada respected the dance because of its history, they just wanted to get to the game. “Seeing that, I think that it’s a challenge or an invitation to go to war, but you get used to it,” she said.

Canada lost that game against New Zealand 48-5, which was their final pool game. Before that, Canada beat Hong Kong 98-0 in their first match, where Tessier scored a try. They also beat Wales, 15-0, in the second match.

The two wins weren’t enough for Canada, as their loss against New Zealand disqualified them from the semi-final. The All Blacks eventually won the tournament, while Rajotte, Tessier and the rest of Team Canada were relegated into the fifth-place playoffs.

Alex Tessier kicks the ball during a match versus the Carleton Ravens on Sept. 17. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

In a battle for pride in the playoffs, Canada beat Wales 52-0, then Australia 43-12, to finish in fifth place at the Rugby World Cup. Before the tournament, Canada was ranked as the fourth-best team in the world. For the two Stingers, their failure to earn a spot on the podium was disappointing.

“We didn’t have the result we wanted. We were supposed to get the medals,” Tessier said. “It pissed us off that we lost that game [against New Zealand]. So the two last games we played for fifth place were amazing games that I will never forget, because they were really well fought.”

Rajotte added that Canada could compete with the stronger teams like New Zealand and England, the other team that made it to the final. She said the Canadian women’s national team has a lot of potential.

“There’s a lot of hope, and there were a lot of veterans on the team who are retiring, so now it’s up to the younger girls to take over,” she said. “[The veterans] did a great job of sharing their knowledge and their past experiences.”

Tessier and Rajotte both said they learned a lot about discipline and professionalism with the Canadian team. “Discipline, we call it being pro, like being on time and being efficient,” Tessier said. “We try to focus on quality over quantity. That’s one thing I took away, is discipline and staying focused.”

The Stingers veterans aim to bring that professionalism back to the Stingers in their final year with the team. The soft-spoken Tessier said the team needs to have a one-game-at-a-time mentality in order win the championship, while the outgoing Rajotte was more direct about what she thought the team could accomplish.

“We are going to win the RSEQ championship, and we are going to go to Nationals in Alberta.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchin


Different season, same high expectations

Women’s rugby coach Graeme McGravie talks about the upcoming year

Last year, the women’s rugby team had a successful season that brought them all the way to Nationals. They won six out of their seven games and posted a point differential of plus 260. The team was able to finish second in the Réseau de sport étudiant de Quebec (RSEQ) division, but according to coach Graeme McGravie, the team is always looking to improve.

“The goal is always the same—it is to win week in and week out,” McGravie said. “We want to—and expect to—win every single game, every single week and eventually get a medal at the Nationals.”

The team has started to practice and is already refining their skills for the upcoming season. Many of the Stingers players from last year are returning, and with a few new recruits, McGravie feels the team is ready to take the next step.

“This year, we have a lot of fifth year players and returning players,” McGravie said. “We have a lot of veterans and experience, so the focus is to win—now and fast. If we would have had a mantra going into training camp, it would definitely be win now.’”

Last season, the Stingers made it to Nationals, but lost in the third place game to the Queen’s University Golden Gaels with a score of 27-13. Two of the players that led the team to Nationals last season were the dynamic duo Frédérique Rajotte and Alex Tessier. Rajotte and Tessier are both All-Canadians, and Rajotte was named league MVP. For McGravie, the team’s physical strategy helps both of these players put up points.

“We like to bang on other teams and get physical to wear them out. It allows us to let Fred and Tess use their speed and work their magic on the boundaries,” said McGravie.

When asked about how the coaching staff is looking at tactical changes going into training camp, McGravie said the physical style of play the team has adopted over the years will remain a staple of the program. McGravie even compared his team to the New York Giants of the NFL.

In terms of recruitment for the upcoming season, McGravie said a winning program and players like Rajotte on his team help in the recruiting process

“It’s kind of like when Kevin Durant went to the Warriors. Players want to go where they’re winning,” McGravie said.

One of the big additions to this year’s team is Francois Ratier, Team Canada’s senior women’s rugby head coach and former technical director of Rugby Quebec. Ratier will be joining the team as an assistant coach.

“He’s the man,” McGravie said. “He’s going to help the coaching staff and kind of look over things. He doesn’t guarantee us wins but he’s going to push everybody on the coaching staff and will be a great asset to the team.”

The Stingers will be given a chance to make an impression on the league during their season opener at home against the Laval Rouge Et Or. The game is on Sept. 5 and will be the first step on the road to Nationals.


Gee Gee’s hand the Stingers their first loss

In a battle between two undefeated teams, Ottawa trumped Concordia 30-7

With conference championship aspirations on the line, the Concordia Stingers Women’s rugby team pitted their undefeated 4-0 record against the seventh-ranked team in the country, the Ottawa Gee Gee’s, early Sunday afternoon at Loyola.

Entering the game as the sixth ranked team in the nation, the Stingers had high hopes coming into the matchup. A veteran team captained by fourth-year flanker Hughanna Gaw, the Stingers uncharacteristically stumbled out of the gate in the early going.

“Ottawa came out on fire, and we came out a little slow,” said Gaw after the game.

The imposing Gee Gees dominated possession throughout the first half, opening the scoring with a successful penalty kick conversation that put them up 3-0.  Despite the lopsided time on attack differential, Concordia’s offense was sparked by a big run from speedy sophomore center Alexandra Tessier, giving the Stingers a 7-3 lead.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

However, the lead was short-lived. Costly turnovers were the story of the day for the stingers, as Ottawa capitalized and subsequently jumped ahead to a 15-7 lead on a goal-line score from Gee Gee’s fourth year scrumhalf Erin Van Gulik.

The Gee Gee’s continued to roll in the second half, overwhelming the Stingers as they dictated possession and forced key turnovers. The Stingers’ untimely giveaways deep in their zone set up easy scores for Ottawa as the battle of the undefeated ended in a 30-7 rout for the visiting side.

“This is the best I’ve seen this team play,” said Jen Boyd, the Gee Gee’s second-year head coach.

When asked if the previously undefeated Stingers squad had underestimated this weeks competition, veteran head coach Graeme McGravie responded emphatically against the notion.

“No definitely not, we know how good they are. They’ve beaten some pretty good teams. We knew exactly what to expect,” said McGravie.

After a lack of intensity in this week’s poor showing, Coach McGravie admired the way Ottawa came out ready to play.

“We had a real lack of urgency today and a lack of intensity, [the Gee Gee’s] were probably foaming at the mouth today when they got on the bus, and we weren’t,” said McGravie.

Despite his discontent with his team’s lackluster performance, Coach McGravie remained confident when thinking about the prospects of the team’s future this season.

“[We’re] Going to go over film and going to go over what we need to do as coaches, and we’re going to bounce back fine next week,” said McGravie.

Next up on the docket, the Stingers look to right the ship and get their championship pursuit back on track as they host the Laval Rouge et Or Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. at the Loyola Campus.


Concordia defeats McGill and heads to RSEQ finals

The Stingers women’s rugby team did not disappoint in getting to the RSEQ playoff finals. Last year, they were defeated by the Laval Rouge et Or 43-27. This year, the maroon-and-gold had to overcome the McGill Martlets in the semi-finals. The game was played on a rainy Friday night at Concordia Stadium.

Within five minutes of the first half, the Stingers scored an early try and successfully converted the ensuing kick to go up 7-0.

At the midway point, the Martlets took advantage of a Concordia penalty by scoring from a kick. Concordia’s lead was narrowed down to 7-3 as the half came to a close.

After the Stingers missed a kick at 9:30, they were on the attack once more two minutes later. They threatened the Martlets by finding gaps in the defense and by cycling the ball around well. Concordia’s aggressive play with possession saw the team within a few yards of the try line. McGill managed to recuperate and stopped ConU on the goal line.

The half ended without any more points. Concordia took a slim four-point lead into the break.

The final 40 minutes were quite similar to the first. Both sides continued to trade possession until Concordia finally found a break with 15 minutes to go. The Stingers managed to get the ball down to the McGill five-yard line, but a penalty saw them unable to score any points.

In the final 10 minutes of the game, the visiting Martlets upped the pressure and started to make their way down the Concordia half. McGill were desperate to take the lead and a good passing play saw them on the Stingers’ 20-yard line. Concordia’s defense once again denied their rivals’ progression and regained possession.

With 4:30 minutes left, Concordia fans were finally able to breathe easier; a mistake in midfield made by McGill left Stinger Frederique Rajotte with space and a clear path to the try line.

The game ended 12-3 in favour of the Stingers.

“You always want to score first and put points up when they give them to you,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie about the early try. “I was really happy we executed there, but I was a little upset we took the pedal off after that.”

With Laval’s win on Saturday in the other semi-final, Concordia will have a chance to avenge their slim five-point loss on Oct. 12 to the Rouge et Or. The final has massive implications as Laval defeated the Stingers in last year’s playoffs. Since 2007, Concordia still has an advantage by winning the playoffs three times compared to Laval’s two RSEQ championship wins.

“We thought we should have won last week,” said McGravie. “We know that we lost the game because we lost it and not because they won it from us. I feel great going to next week.”


The RSEQ finals will be played Saturday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. at the University of Laval’s Stade Telus. The game will also be broadcasted online.

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