Development the focus of first loss

Hawks focus only on the positives after scoring first points against Guelph Gryphons since 2001

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

For the first time since 2001, the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s rugby team was able to break the shutout against the powerhouse Guelph Gryphons.

What looked like an abysmal game on paper en route to an 81-3 loss, the Hawks had several moments of light, as they are also the first team to put points in their column against Guelph thus far this season.

“It’s always a tough game. They’ve always been a tough team,” co-head coach Michelle DeHaan said.

“It’s the best rugby we’ve seen our girls play in the years that we have been coaching here. We managed to put some points on the board which no other team has managed this year.”

The game remained within grasp for some time. Laurier made tackles and won possession through line-outs, scrums and rucks in the first half. The Hawks moved the ball well down the back line and broke several runs for over 20 metres against the Guelph defence line.

However following the immense effort by the Laurier team, the game was broken open by the Guelph eight-man, putting up three tries.

The three points the Hawks put on the scoreboard to break the Gryphons’ shutout were the contribution of fifth-year flanker Jennifer Gilmour on a penalty conversion. Despite the outcome, DeHaan remained optimistic about the outcome and opted to put the game behind her.

“No big critical mistakes, just a few missed tackles on some big hard runners, but it’s behind us so we’re ready to move on,” she said.

Oftentimes when teams go stagnant and the game is out of hand, the focus shifts from winning and teams set their eyes on development.

DeHaan continued on some of the positive take away from the game.

“We just seem to be coming together this year. We have a lot of good chemistry between senior players and rookies,” she said.

“The girls are all on the same page. We know what we want to execute and when. So hopefully we can keep growing off that.”

Rugby is a game of possession. Whoever can control the ball longer generally sees dividends on the score board.

Coach DeHaan was very happy about the way the Hawks performed when it came to technique.

“On the more rugby-specific skills, we were tough at the breakdown. We were tough in our set pieces. We were winning scrums. So I’m hoping [we] have taken the positives away.”

“It’s always nice to see a rugby club that is that strong.”

According to DeHaan, it is important that the Hawks keep their confidence high and not turn this one loss into a losing streak.

“We want to win. There’s stuff we need to work on obviously, from our first three games this season, but we want to come out on top of [the game against Western]. With whatever it takes, and improve our record and our playoff position hopefully,” she said.

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