Rugby coach says goodbye

Photo By Nick Lachance
Photo By Nick Lachance

On May 5, Wilfrid Laurier University’s athletics and recreation department announced men’s rugby head coach Rob McQueen will not be returning for the 2014-2015 season.

Since joining the program in 2010, McQueen has compiled a 3-27 record with the club, with a winless season this past year.

“We went to our student athlete evaluation process, as we do every year. We do this with all of our sports, and all of our student athletes,” said Wally Gabler, coordinator of interuniversity sport at Laurier. “Based on those evaluations we felt that with the men’s rugby program we needed to move in a different direction.”

Second-year player Matthew Sneath was surprised with the decision and voiced his opinion on the coaching change.

“I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. I mean, I know that our record hasn’t been great in the past since he’s got here, so I can see from a record standpoint how the whole thing was probably conceived,” he explained. “It seems unexpected, because we had a lot going on in the next year or two.”

The team’s record was a blatantly obvious blemish in Laurier’s rugby program, however the student evaluations revealed their on-the-field record was as much of an issue as the off-the-field player-coach relationship.

“It was not based solely on his record. I would say connecting with the players was definitely an area that we looked at and some of the feedback we got resulted in the decisions we made,” Gabler said.

However, while Sneath agreed communication was an issue in the past years, he insisted McQueen’s fundamental know-how of the sport was exceptional.

“His rugby knowledge is awesome. He is a hundred per cent dedicated to winning, and getting the best out of all of the boys,” Sneath said. “Sometimes he is so focused on that, that his ability to communicate things to players and have the more personal interactions wasn’t always there.”

Sneath said he understands the overall decision and wher

e it is coming from, but is a firm believer that the players could have taken a bit more initiative and are just as much to blame for the team’s performance.

“Guys who have been around the block a little bit should be able to read [the situation] at that level and pick up on the fact that maybe he can’t communicate as well, but all the main stuff is there … there are 20-25 guys on our team. Everyone can always do more to contribute to the win … Rob is only one cog in the whole machine,” he said.

Looking forward, a search for a replacement will begin immediately, and Gabler has a very specific set of expectations for the incoming head coach.

“Someone who has a distinct and unique vision on how to move the program forward and connection with regards to recruiting. They must have the nerve and vigour to move the program forward.” he said.

Sneath believes the new coach is going to have some major shoes to fill in order to live up to McQueen’s standards.
“Recruiting wise, I don’t think you can get any better than Rob did. It’s no secret that Laurier is not one of the best teams in the league right now and we don’t attract the most players. Rob put in tons of time and effort into it, and we still did not get all the players we want. Recruiting is going to be huge for whoever fills his spot.”

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