The expectations are high for McGill Redmen Rugby this year. After last season’s dramatic RSEQ championship victory over the Montreal Carabins, McGill is gunning for another conference title.
On Sunday, the McGill Redmen were dominant in their season opener against the Concordia Stingers at McGill’s Percival Molson Stadium. Fourth-year centre Jamie Wilson opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a try from the corner. Concordia quickly responded with their first and only points of the penalty kick that bounced off the left goal post before passing through the uprights.
The score was 27-3 at the halfway mark. The Redmen continued to press in the second half, finishing the game with a comfortable 46-3 victory.
“The guys came together well,” Head Coach Ian Ballie said. “First game out, we were a bit over-aggressive at the beginning and made some poor decisions, but that straightened itself out a little bit. […There is] stuff to work on, but [it was] a good start.”
Fourth-year front row, Alex Wang, had a positive outlook on the match.
“It was a great game,” Wang said. “We had some good forward action, stabilizing the front line, […] and [the backs] just went wide every time and scored.”
It was a powerful effort by the home side. The Redmen managed to contain the Stingers within their half for most of the game. A disciplined defensive effort kept the Stingers from coming too close to the goal line, while a calm, patient attacking approach allowed the Redmen to put up eight tries.
With an almost totally remade squad, the Redmen face the challenge of earning their second consecutive RSEQ banner and ninth championship in the past decade.
“We graduated out a big number of guys, [but] we’ve got some young guys coming in,” said Baillie. “Some guys who weren’t part of the varsity group last year are stepping up into those roles too.”
While Baillie is optimistic about the upcoming season, he is also quick to give credit to the other teams in the league. Lately, Redmen Rugby has been an undeniable force in the RSEQ conference, but that certainly doesn’t mean this season will be easy for them.
“It’ll be competitive,” said Baillie. “We’ve seen a couple of the other sides already in preseason, and it’s going to be a competitive year.”
Based on Sunday’s match, the Redmen have an exciting season ahead of them. After back-to-back away games against ETS and Montreal, McGill returns home on Oct. 7 for a date with Bishop’s.
Stat corner: McGill’s eight tries were spread out among six different scorers.
Quotable: “Eight out of the last nine championships—we’ve gotta get it and make it nine,”- Senior Alex Wang on potentially winning another championship this year.
Moment of the game: Concordia defenders tried to hold him up, but outside centre Sayf Al-Omaishi fought to get the ball to ground, scoring his second try of the game in the 32nd minute of play