Stingers to watch in 2009 

By Daniel Rodrigues

For a rookie, Stingers flanker Cortney Keeble brings much experience to this year's women's rugby squad. Magnifying glass

For a rookie, Stingers flanker Cortney Keeble brings much experience to this year's women's rugby squad.

It has been close to nine months since the fields that grace Concordia’s athletic complex on Loyola Campus saw their last Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) competition.

But that was then and this is now. Stinger athletes are back, loaded with talent and optimism for the '09 season.

Team success is always the top priority, but football’s Robert Mackay and women’s rugby player Cortney Keeble are two Stingers to keep an eye on this fall.

Mackay returns to the Stingers as starting quarterback after being sidelined for the last year and a half with a knee injury.

“I’m excited to get back out there and play football again,” said Mackay, a fifth-year veteran from Port Dover, Ont. “The knee feels great. I’m just focused on winning some football games.”

The 22-year-old first assumed the role of starting quarterback in the '07 campaign after spending two seasons as the team’s backup. After only four games, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee, ending his season. He missed all of '08 recovering from knee surgery.

“At first, it was tough not being able to play,” says Mackay. “But spending last year on the sidelines helped give me a new perspective on the game. I feel like I have a new appreciation and understanding of the position.”

Stingers head coach Gerry McGrath sees a renewed potential in the kid he recruited five years ago.

“Having Rob back gives us a QB who can be among the elite in the country,” says McGrath. “He has tremendous skills as a passer and he’s a great leader. He will hold the key to our success this year.”

While Mackay is expected to be a veteran presence, rookie flanker Cortney Keeble is one of the many players women’s rugby head coach Graeme McGravie expects big things from this season.

“She hits like a freight train,” said McGravie of his prize recruit. “I expect her to bring a physical presence to our team.”

Don’t let Keeble’s lack of university experience fool you; she’s played rugby for Quebec’s under-17 team and with John Abbott College. In August, she helped lead the Ste. Anne de Bellevue senior women’s rugby club to the Quebec Premier League championship.

Keeble, a native of Kirkland, Que., is also an elite ringette player who suited up for Team Quebec in the '07 Canada Games in Whitehorse. Currently, she plays for Lac St. Louis in the National Ringette League.

In addition, Keeble has great athletic genes on her side. Her father Glen played six years on the Montreal Alouettes’ offensive line.

“We are excited to have Cortney join our program,” said McGravie. “She is one of those players that just keeps going and going.”


Concordia University