“I could tell everyone was exhausted,” captain Mitchell Cuillerier said. “But when I looked in their eyes, I could see nobody was going to quit.”
With the RSEQ Championship on the line, the Montréal Carabins (5-2-0) held the McGill Redmen (6-0-1) in check for 80 minutes. But as the clock ticked down in extra time, McGill, trailing 9-3, mustered up one final attack.
“I was just thinking about all the hard work we’ve put in […] since day one,” RSEQ Rookie-of-the-Year Sebastian Boyer said. “Especially for all our graduating players, I just couldn’t fathom losing out like that.”
An offside late in extra time gave the Redmen the ball at the Carabins’ five-yard line. Seconds later, scrum half Quentin Dubois passed it from the back of the ruck to Boyer who burst through the Carabins line for a try.
“One of the [Montréal] players was out of position,” Boyer said. “I just thought, ‘This is it’ [….] It felt unreal—on my birthday, in front of all my friends, my family, and a huge McGill crowd, you just couldn’t have scripted it better.”
Fifth-year centre Thomas Stokes stepped up to kick the title-clinching conversion. As the ball sailed through the uprights, the McGill faithful exploded into mayhem.
“When I struck the ball and saw it go through the uprights I felt relief first, then immense elation,” Stokes said, “My immediate reaction was to run over to my teammates and celebrate the moment with them.”
McGill jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after second-year fly half Kyle Makischuk connected on a 33-yard penalty kick; however, the Redmen struggled offensively with the absence of All-Star centre Augustus Hill. With the ball inside the five-yard line late in the first half, McGill squandered a great scoring opportunity when a costly knock-on turned the ball over. The Redmen held a tight line, but the Carabins’ captain Pierre Constantin converted two kicks to put Montreal up just before the halftime break. Constantin connected again on a 53rd minute penalty kick, but missed kicks in the second half left the window open for McGill’s late-game heroics.
“Credit to them, they put a lot of pressure on us,” Head Coach Ian Baillie said. “They played a very good tactical game.”
After a heartbreaking loss in the RSEQ Finals last season, the victory marked McGill’s ninth conference title in the last 10 years. With nine seniors expecting to depart, the Redmen will have some holes to fill next season, but with the RSEQ Coach-of-the-Year Baillie, and talented underclassmen such as Boyer returning, the future’s bright for Redmen Rugby.
“The greatest part about playing Redmen Rugby is the connection and bond you make with your teammates.” –Captain and hooker Mitchell Cuillerier on the Redmen’s team culture.
McGill has been to 15 consecutive RSEQ Finals since 2000.
Moment of the game
After his game-winning try, Boyer was mobbed by his teammates, who lifted him onto their shoulders and carried him off the field.