Big things on the horizon for Laurier Rugby
For both the men’s and women’s rugby teams, 2018 is shaping up to hopefully be a season for the record books.
Coming off of the best season in the modern history of the Laurier men’s rugby program, the team opened their 2018 campaign last week with a convincing 50-0 victory over Trent.
The Golden Hawks, who finished 2017 with a 5-3 record, dominated Trent from start to finish to capture a season opening victory for the third consecutive year.
“We’ve got a veteran team now, and they understand what we are looking for in our system and how we go about playing the game, and I think that showed [on opening night],” said head coach Ian McLeod about the team’s performance against Trent.
Matt Fish, who is part of the group of veterans that McLeod spoke about, had an outstanding performance in the win, leading the team with five tries.
Following the win versus Trent, the team took on Queen’s this past weekend in a showdown against one of the top rugby programs in the province.
The Gaels, who went undefeated during the 2017 season, were too much for Laurier to handle, as they handed the Hawks a 55-22 defeat.
On the Women’s side, the team opened their season with a 58-28 win over the University of Toronto, led by Michaela Strong and Hayley Desjardins who each scored two tries for the Hawks.
Despite the momentum from a season opening victory, Laurier dropped their home opener and second game of the season to Brock, who scored 45 points in the second half on route to a 69-17 win.
“The skill level is there and the character is there. I think for the first time since I’ve been here, we have some depth to play with. So [if we have] an injury, while not great, we can certainly fill a spot where before we didn’t have that luxury.”
Both early season losses suffered by the men’s and women’s teams should not be reason to worry, however, as the sides are still well positioned to be competing for one of the top seeds in the OUA come playoff time.
McLeod, the 2017 OUA Men’s Rugby Coach of the Year, spoke about his overall expectations for his team, coming off of a fourth place finish last year.
“The goal is simply to improve. So record wise, we would like to get a few more wins and go further in the playoffs than we did last year. Those are pretty simple but certainly very doable as far as I’m concerned and as far as the team is concerned. [They are] certainly in reach if we play to our capabilities.”
When asked about the biggest challenge standing in the way of improving on last season, McLeod mentioned that one issue facing the team is consistency.
“I think in spurts we’ve been very good and then in the same breath we haven’t been good. If we can remove the bad and increase the good I think we will be in great shape.”
Andrew Quattrin, a fifth year student, is the reigning OUA men’s rugby MVP and is definitely one of the standout Golden Hawks to watch for this season. He is the first male rugby player in school history to win MVP honours from the OUA.
The aforementioned Michaela Strong is likely to become the breakout player for the women’s team in 2018, as the third year student is coming off of an OUA First Team All-Star nomination in just her sophomore season.
Overall, coach McLeod seems very pleased with the men’s roster that has been assembled.
“The skill level is there and the character is there,” McLeod expressed. “I think for the first time since I’ve been here, we have some depth to play with. So [if we have] an injury, while not great, we can certainly fill a spot where before we didn’t have that luxury.”
You can catch both teams in action this weekend, as the women battle Trent on Sept. 15 and the men host their season opener against Western on Sept. 16.