PREVIEW: Laurier men’s and women’s rugby

File photo by Heather Davidson

File photo by Heather Davidson

Men’s rugby 

One year after Ian McLeod joined the program as the new head coach, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s rugby team is looking to compete for a top position in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings this season.

In McLeod’s debut season with the Hawks, he led the team to a 3-5 record, enough to earn the Hawks their first postseason entrance since 2009. Before McLeod’s hiring, the Hawks struggled to put together a win, posting a single victory between the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

McLeod made an immediate impact, and the Hawks started finding success as soon as they stepped onto the field, winning their first preseason game against the Western Mustangs and winning their season opening game against the Waterloo Warriors the following week.

After being hired last August, this will also be McLeod’s first year going through the recruiting process. McLeod worked to bring in an elite class of rookies from the Ontario program joining the Hawks this year. The recruit class features 28 rookies with a couple of outstanding athletes expecting to make appearances this year.

The Hawks first challenge will come at the end of training camp, when they head to London to face the Western Mustangs in preseason action on Sept. 5. Afterwards, the Mustangs return to Waterloo to kick off the regular season against Laurier.

The game kicks off Sept. 11 at 7 p.m at University Stadium.

 

File photo by Jody Waardenburg

File photo by Jody Waardenburg

Women’s rugby

With the help of their veteran core, the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s rugby team is looking to make a deep postseason run.

In 2014, the Hawks posted a 2-3 record, securing third-place in their division and sending them into the postseason against a familiar rival in the Guelph Gryphons. Despite finding success in the regular season, the Hawks struggled against a tough opponent in Guelph and were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

The Hawks will be bringing back their strongest senior core in recent years. Headlining this group of veterans are captains Kelly Martin and Jennifer Gilmour, who are returning for their fifth and final year. Fourth-year Chloe Graves will be bringing speed as well to an already senior backline.

With such a short season — each Ontario University Athletics (OUA) team only plays five games — the Hawks will be looking to add another tally in the win column this year and also build on last year’s regular season, while aiming to secure a higher seeding come playoffs. Co-head coach Amy Bambury is excited to see the veteran core execute and put out a good season with the supporting cast they have, and aim to find success in grabbing a higher seed in the standings.

The Hawks will lace up their cleats and kick off their regular season on Saturday Sept. 12 when they travel to Toronto to face the Varsity Blues. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

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