McGill Men’s Rugby advances to RSEQ final

The McGill Men’s rugby team (51) dismantled the Ottawa Gee-Gees (33) in a 3722 victory on Nov. 2. This victory sends them to the RSEQ championship match against Concordia on Nov. 10. 

The home team was quick off the blocks when first-year fly half and RSEQ rookie of the year Monty Weatherall converted a penalty kick in the first minute, giving McGill a 30 lead. A few moments later, third-year inside centre Elliot Esposito went on a blistering run, which set up another penalty conversion from Weatherall, doubling McGill’s lead to 6–0. From there, it was fourth-year Michael Nwabufo’s Show. The 6’4” second row hammered players left and right and seemed to be on every tackle. The RSEQ All-Star was adamant about the win being a team effort. 

“Our coach set it up very well,” Nwabufo said. “We weren’t contesting the ruck, so there were a lot more people involved. We just had to understand where the ball was going to go. It was easy because every time someone gets hit, you can go in and assist. It’s [about] being there for each other.”

The Gee-Gees came back strong, however, applying pressure on the home team’s defence after the 20-minute mark. This led to a penalty conversion that halved the lead, and a yellow card against third-year tight head prop Jeremy OckoMichalak, who would be sidelined for the next 10 minutes. 

With only 14 players on the pitch, it looked like McGill would be on their back foot. However, this turned out not to be the case, as they launched multiple attacks until fourth-year flanker Ryan Robb finally scored the first try of the game. Just before the break, third-year outside centre Maxime Rieuf capped off a dominant first half when he received a handoff that built McGill’s lead to 17 points.

“In the first-half we really wanted it more than them,” Weatherall said. “We beat them earlier this season, so we knew coming out of the changing rooms we needed to [knock] them off balance.”

Coming back from the break, McGill’s dismantling of Ottawa continued when second-year lock Karl Hunger punched in McGill’s third try of the game. Several big runs followed, most notably a mesmerizing scamper through the opposition’s defence by Weatherall that led to another try, this time by second-year 8-man Andreas Dionisopoulos. Weatherall completed his Jonny Wilkinson-esque performance by converting his fifth kick of the match.

The rest of the match was a mere formality: McGill slacked off and became complacent, enabling Ottawa to muster a slight comeback, but it was too little too late.

McGill will head to the provincial finals on Nov. 10 where they will face off against their cross-town rival Concordia (6–0). The McGill men’s rugby team has lost all five of their past matchups against the Stingers, who have not lost an RSEQ game in three years.  

 

Moment of the game

The crowd erupted at the 12-minute mark, when third-year inside centre Elliot Esposito left multiple rivals in the dust on a physical 40 metre run. This would ultimately set up first-year fly half Monty Weatherall for a field goal conversion to put McGill up 60 early in the game.

Quotable

“Today we wanted to play at the best of our abilities and send a message to Concordia for the final. Let them know that their three-year unbeaten streak is under threat. We definitely believe we have the capacity to beat them next week.” First-year fly half Monty Weatherall on next week’s RSEQ final against the Stingers. 

Stat corner

This season, McGill has outscored opponents 170–64 in five home games at Percival Molson Stadium. Prior to the playoffs, they have allowed an average of only 10.5 points against per game. 

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