Hawks fall in playoffs

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

The first year of the rebuilding process has ended for the Wilfird Laurier University men’s rugby team.

The team lost in the quarterfinals of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs last Wednesday, one year after recording a winless season. They fell 36-22 in a loss to the Brock Badgers.

According to Head coach Ian McLeod, the team did not play to their potential and could have walked away as OUA semi-finalists.

“I thought we played reasonably well, but I thought we could have played better … I certainly would not question the effort of the guys. At the end of the day, we did not deserve to win on that day, but I think we have a team that could have beat Brock. That was a little disappointing in that way,” he said.

McLeod took over as head coach this year, trying to instill a new culture into a club that had a history of being on the outside looking in for quite some time. The team went 3-5 this year. This is the most wins they have had since 2009 when they achieved a record of 4-4.

Although McLeod was disappointed with the final results he said he realizes even getting the first win of the season was monumental for his vision of the program and the season.

“That was huge, not so much for me, but for the guys that have been here for two, three, four years now. Just to get a win under their belt and say that, ‘Hey, things are changing a little bit here,’ ” he said.

That message stayed with the team for the rest of the year, as they started to believe they could compete against top teams. It’s a message that has resonated with fourth-year center Brandon Kostyk.

“The coach has tried to instil a new rugby culture and to expect more from each other and from ourselves and not be satisfied with mediocrity. We are on an upswing on every note, but you can always be better, there is room for improvement,” he said.

Looking at the season of the whole, McLeod said he is satisfied with the ultimate result.

“If I was going to rate it I would give it an eight out of 10. I thought we could have won the one playoff game,” he said. “Overall as a program I think it was a great stride. Hopefully it will encourage some recruits coming forward to think that Laurier is a good rugby school, and I’d like be a part of that.”

Going forward, the focus now shifts to a recruiting mentality, McLeod said. Laurier will be losing some significant players to graduation and will need to fill those holes in order to improve off of this year’s success.

For McLeod, recruiting is somewhat of a science that has a lot more to do than talent. This marks his first offseason with a full season under his belt, and will now search for the best players for his team.

“We have to find the right players as far as attitude and culture are concerned because I think that was an issue in the past here that we are trying to change slowly but surely,” he said.

Kostyk, who will head into his final season at Laurier next season, is optimistic about the upcoming year.

“Hopefully with Ian in place and some key rookies that came in this year, better recruiting again this year we can definitely bring the program up and make a name for ourselves in Ontario and Canada,” he said.

As the preparation for next season begins, Coach McLeod would like to see one thing above everything else — continuous improvement. He believes that for the program to continue to grow, the results have to keep getting better with every new season.

“We made the quarter finals this year so we need to get to at least the semi-finals next year. We cannot be content with what we have done so far.,” he said.

“We have to keep pushing this thing forward.”

Leave a Reply