Stingers: Women’s Rugby places 4th at Nationals 

By Daniel Rodrigues

Concordia’s Women’s Rugby Stingers battle the St. Francis Xavier X-Women during the semi-finals on a rainy Vancouver afternoon Nov. 7 at the CIS National Championships. Magnifying glass

Concordia’s Women’s Rugby Stingers battle the St. Francis Xavier X-Women during the semi-finals on a rainy Vancouver afternoon Nov. 7 at the CIS National Championships.

For three straight days, the Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team battled tough conditions and even tougher opponents at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Championships, hosted by the University of British Colombia from November 5 to 8, finishing fourth just shy of a medal.

“I am extremely proud of how our girls played this weekend,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie. “But it is massively disappointing to not come home with a medal.”

The disappointment stems from a close 15-10 loss to the Guelph Gryphons in Sunday’s bronze medal match, but even more so from their loss the day prior.

On Saturday, the Stingers squared off against the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, who were tournament runners-up in 2008. Despite extreme changes in weather, which included rain and hail and a field that was more mud than grass, the Stingers had an 8-0 halftime lead. Nearing the final whistle, Concordia was still ahead 8-5, until StFX were awarded a penalty kick, which they converted to tie the game. The two teams went scoreless in the first ten minutes of sudden-death overtime, but it was StFX who earned the try in the second extra frame to win the match 13-8.

“It was a really close game and I thought we did extremely well in the very tough conditions,” said McGravie. “I’m really proud of how are girls refocused and were able to come out tough against Guelph despite a loss like that.”

In round-robin play on Friday Concordia defeated the Western Ontario Mustangs 10-0, and lost to the eventual tournament champions the Lethbridge Pronghorns 15-0.

The Stingers fourth place finish marks the second time the team has made it that far, matching the 1998 team who accomplished the feat at the inaugural CIS event.

For coach McGravie, now in his fifth season, it was the second time in three years his team has made the championship. They earned a fifth place finish in 2007.
For their effort throughout the weekend the Stingers were honoured with the R.W. Pugh fair play award, as selected by the other coaches, for playing the game with both class and discipline. For their strong individual play, lock Sarah Nesbitt and wing Laura Belvedere were both named championship all-stars.

At the major awards and all-Canadians gala and dinner held Thursday night in Vancouver, two Stingers received individual accolades for their impressive seasons.

Hughanna Gaw, a 21-year-old from Elgin, Que., was named the CIS Rookie of the Year. She is not only the first Stinger, but also the first player from the Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) to earn this distinction. Gaw, led the team in tackles this season and added two tries for 10 points. She was also a member of the QSSF all-star team.

Jackie Tittley, the second-year inside centre, earned her second consecutive CIS all-Canadian award. She led the team in scoring with three tries, 22 converts and five penalty goals for 74 points in six regular season games.

This season, the Stingers finished conference play with a 5-1 record, good for second overall. They won both playoff games, including a thrilling 13-10 overtime victory against unbeaten Laval to capture the conference title and avenge their loss from last season.

“We had talked about beating Laval all year,” said McGravie. “To do it was very satisfying. Our goal for next season is to come back to this [CIS] championship and win ourselves a medal.”


Concordia University