Winless season for rugby
It was an unfortunate match under the bright lights of University Stadium for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s rugby on Friday night, as the playoff-bound Western Mustangs did the honour of handing the Hawks their first winless season in four years in a 47-10 defeat.
“It’s always tough wrapping up a season this way,” said head coach Rob McQueen.
“If the season had another month, I believe we would be playoff contenders. We have began to click as a group and have found chemistry as of late and it was evident in tonight’s game.”
The purple and gold put forth a commendable effort against the Mustangs on the field Friday, as they managed to make a first half comeback against Western to turn a 16-0 deficit into a 16-10 game going into the end of the first half.
“We played a solid effort overall I thought,” said fourth-year fullback Brenden Gilbert.
“It was a good team effort, we played well in the first half.”
The Golden Hawks’ tries came courtesy of Brandon Kostysk, who hammered home the first try, followed shortly by Tomas Laraouche, who used a dazzling to juke to dance by a pair of Mustang defenders for the easy score.
“We gave Western a run for their money and took positive steps in the first half, unfortunately the gap widened in the second half, but I’m happy with the effort tonight,” said McQueen on the admirable effort mustered by the Hawk squad.
Western took over in the second half of the season finale thanks to strong play from players like Picton, Ont. native Demetris Christopher who had three tries in the contest and added a pair in the second half to power the Mustangs second half barrage.
“We kept it close but we were just out-hustled by a more experienced team with older players,” added Gilbert.
“We kept it tight for the most part of the match, but we weren’t able to hold on in the second half.”
The injury-riddled Golden Hawks look forward to the offseason as a chance to get healthy, and according to McQueen, an opportunity to get stronger.
“We have a new strength and conditioning coordinator and program for the offseason, and we hope to add some size and skill to some of our younger players,” explained McQueen.
“We have a young squad who got good game-time action due to injuries this season, this experience and off-season conditioning will help our younger players improve.”
The purple and gold catch a break this year, with only three players leaving the team due to graduation. A handful of fourth-year players have decided to stick around for their fifth and final campaign, including Gilbert, who sees promise in the next season.
“Only three players are graduating this year, which is a positive factor,” said Gilbert.
“We have a great young core of players coming up, combined with a lot of returning players, it should make for a bright season.”
The Golden Hawks will hold their heads up high as they look to gain a playoff berth next season for the first time since 2009.