Last fall, the McGill men’s rugby team had an incredibly strong season that ended in heartbreak when they were blanked by Concordia in the RSEQ Championship game. One key component absent from the Redbirds’ playoff squad was star fly-half Monty Weatherall who missed the majority of the season after an injury during the first match-up against the Stingers.
I sat down with the rugby star in The McGill Tribune office to hear about his rugby beginnings, his season-ending injury, and his goals for the years ahead.
“My whole family has played [rugby],” Weatherall began. “My granddad played back in the 50s, and my mom’s side of the family all played. I started playing when I was six. I’ve always played sports—I played rugby, soccer, and cricket until I was 15, and then stopped playing the other sports to focus on rugby.”
As for academics, when it came time to decide on a university, McGill was the only school outside of the United Kingdom that Weatherall applied to following a friend’s recommendation.
“When I got [here] I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out, so I thought I would just come for a year and see how I liked it,” Weatherall said. “And I just absolutely fell in love with being in Montreal and at McGill.”
Weatherall explained that all apprehension disappeared as he immediately felt at home with the Redbirds rugby squad.
“Coming to McGill, moving to a different country knowing only one other person here, I felt very lucky that I played rugby because it’s just an instant community of 50 people who always have your back,” he explained.
Unfortunately, after Weatherall’s first season with the Redbirds, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the team from returning to play until his third year.
After the loss of a season in 2020, the 2021 home-opener was greatly anticipated, especially by Weatherall as his brother was able to fly in from the U.K. for the momentous event.
“I have three brothers and a sister, so I’m part of a big family and we are all really, really close,” said Weatherall. “With COVID, it was tough to see them, so the fact that my brother was able to come out and watch the game and then spend time with all my friends after and get to experience Montreal was really special for me.”
Sadly, Weatherall’s first season post-COVID was not without its hardships as three games into the season, he tore his posterior cruciate ligament ( and his lateral collateral ligament on the inside and outside of the knee, respectively. He also sustained a bone fracture that required surgery and ended his season before it truly even started.
“I spent the whole of this year doing rehab, spending a lot of time in the gym. And from that injury it was 11 months to my first game back against Carleton [in 2022],” Weatherall explained. “The [physiotherapists] at McGill looked after me really well, I am super super grateful for all the support that the McGill Sports Medical Clinic gave, not just to me but to all the other players who get injured because they are absolutely world-class.”
Now serving as the team’s captain, Weatherall has several impressive accolades. But instead of focusing on himself, he highlighted the work of his teammates in spearheading fundraising initiatives.
“Our president, Owen Cumming, is just so amazing with his commitment to things off the field. With Movember, we are consistently one of the highest fundraising groups at the university, and he leads that massively. I think last year we were seventh in the country out of all sports teams for fundraising.”
As McGill’s leading scorer, I expected Weatherall’s warm-up to be rather intense. Instead, he explained that he prefers “chilled” music such as “Runnin’” by Beyoncé and Naughty Boy to keep his composure prior to a match. And so far, the pregame ritual seems to be working.
The Redbirds are currently at a 3–1 record, second in the RSEQ standings backed by Weatherall’s team-leading 38 points. The team hopes to maintain their momentum throughout the season to finally bring the RSEQ Championship back to McGill before Weatherall graduates this December.
“The goal for this season is to win the RSEQ,” concluded Weatherall. “We haven’t done it in [seven] years, so really we just want to win the conference. Every year I have been here, we have come runner-up in the finals, so this year we really, really want to win.”
And with Weatherall as captain, the ‘ship just might be McGill’s for the taking.