Ending a five-year playoff drought
A year after posting a record of 0-8, the men’s rugby team is now 3-4, securing a playoff spot
The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s rugby team played a critical game last Saturday against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
The club came away with the victory by a score of 43-5 and clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2009.
The Hawks were hesitant in the first, and drew a lot of knock-on calls. However, they were able to finish the half on a high note and took a 17-0 lead going into the second half of the game.
The second half saw an even stronger showing. The team was able to score a total of four tries in just ten minutes and extended their lead to 43-0.
The Blues scored a try in the last five seconds to put themselves on the board, preventing a Golden Hawk shutout at home.
Third-year left wing Andrew Thomson was instrumental in the victory, recording four tries for the Hawks, earning him 20 of the 43 points for Laurier.
Although the team looked to have a rocky start, head coach Ian McLeod felt as if they picked up the pace as the game went on, especially the veterans.
“I think we were very nervous in the first half and I think that explains a lot of the knock-ons, spills and sort of not generating. But [the veterans] stepped up,” he said.
“All the veterans of the team really played solid and carried the weight when we needed it.”
The Hawks rugby team now awaits the playoffs with one more game left in the season and a 3-4 record.
This comes a year after finishing with one of the worst seasons in recent memory, with an 0-8 record in 2013.
Coach McLeod was brought in over the summer to turn the team around and is thrilled with the win.
“It’s great [making playoffs]. I mean that was the goal at the beginning of the year and we have achieved that goal so we will see,” he said.
“Now that we have advanced, anything can happen and we will do our best to try and extend that playoff run. I am really proud of the guys — they did a great job.”
Thomson is also pleased with landing a playoff spot.
“We are all extremely excited [to make the playoffs]. It’s really big” he said.
However, he feels that they have some work to do on the field before they get there.
“We need to keep our emotions contained,” he said.
“In the first half things weren’t always going our way. We were losing control a bit and as you can see it didn’t come together very well, but once we got our emotions controlled we rallied and came back.”
Going into the next game, McLeod said he is going to give some of the starters a rest and give other an opportunity to take the field before the playoffs begin.
“Next game will be interesting because we have one more league game so what we are going to do is probably play some seniors that haven’t had a chance to start and rest our starters,” he said.
“We won’t really worry too much about the outcome because it can’t influence where we finish so we’ll just have some fun with it.”
The Hawks will play in their final game of the 2014 regular season on Oct. 24 at in Guelph.
Guelph currently sits second in the OUA with a record of 5-1.
While the game does not have many implications for the Hawks, the Gryphons will be fighting for a first round bye in the playoffs and will likely play their starters
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.