The McGill Redmen (7-0-1) routed the ETS Piranhas (2-6-0) 50-0 in the RSEQ semifinals at Molson Stadium on Friday, despite having three Redmen leave the field injured and entering plays one man down due to yellow cards.
The victory marks the 15th straight time McGill has reached the final of the RSEQ Championship, and the team was in a celebratory mood after the match. Five Redmen received awards after the game. Fly-half Augustus Hill, senior second row Tommie Larochelle, junior second row Bernard Kaminski, and senior flanker Rhys McRae-McKee were named RSEQ All-Stars, while number eight Sebastien Boyer was named Rookie-of-the-Year. Head Coach Ian Baillie was also awarded with the Coach-of-the-Year plaque.
“Ask him if he wants me to sign his Coach-of-the-Year award!” joked Assistant Coach Matt Garston during Baillie’s post-game interview.
McGill’s hard running was on display all game. Senior centre Thomas Stokes recorded four tries and opened McGill’s scoring in the third minute. He swiftly followed with a second try just seven minutes later, and scored his third at the end of the first half. McGill entered the break leading 22-0.
“We have a couple of guys who can really take the line, and you saw that today,” Baillie said, “We had a number of line breaks.”
McGill’s passing was something to behold, moving the ball down the line with a frictionless ease. Hooker Mitchell Cuillerier was excellent in attack, anchoring many of the dummy switches McGill employed to keep the ETS defence off-balance.
The best of McGill offence, however, was on display in the 52nd minute—at the 50-metre line, Hill broke a tackle with a dummy pass, and then effortlessly off-loaded the ball to the rampant Stokes who scored in the corner.
McGill, who had to contend with two yellow cards, tackled in a disciplined and relentless fashion. McRae-McKee was particularly active against a pesky ETS rucking side.
“Defensively, we were very strong,” Baillie said. “We gave them a couple of penalties at the breakdown […] but we were very strong in the tackle, and we turned them over quite a bit.”
Worryingly, Hill was injured by a late tackle in the 65th minute. He was helped off the field, and his status for the Finals is presently uncertain.
“We will have to wait and see,” Baillie said. “He took a pretty good knock. So we’ll get him looked at, follow all the protocols obviously.”
McGill will face the Montreal Carabins next week in the RSEQ Finals. McGill beat Montreal on a last-second play in their previous matchup, but the Redmen are favorites in the upcoming game.
“[Montreal is a] class side—on their day they can take it to anyone,” Baillie said. “The league is getting more and more parity [.…] It will be a tough game.
“We have a very good back three and we’ll kick counter with anyone. I think we will tend to win [a kicking battle] just because we have very good rugby players from a kicking perspective.” –Baillie on McGill’s response to opposition tactics that attempt to pin the Redmen back with the kicking game.
Moment of the game
In the 47th minute, McRae-McKee froze his defender at the McGill 30-metre line with an audacious spin move. He then proceeded to drag four defenders 15 yards before being brought down.
McGill have now outscored opponents 197 to 43 when playing at home.