Strong showings from Cougars rugby

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author: nathan mccarville | sports writer

What would happen if we put the Cougars teams in a time machine / pixabay

Teams at Canadian University Rugby 7’s 

The men’s and women’s rugby teams are just getting back from their respective trips to Kingston, Ontario to the Royal Military College, who hosted the Canadian University Rugby 7’s, from  Mar22 to Mar24. The teams were both ready for the challenge to face the Eastern Ontarian and Quebecois teams taking part in the annual championship. With less of an administrative or organizational structure, the Cougars’ own club teams faced off against the more plentifully funded eastern teams for the chance to call themselves Canada’s national rugby champions.  

Each of the teams brought along 12 players to fill their rosters. Corresponding with the University of Regina’s men’s 7’s coach, Brett Kannenberg, he commented on the men’s preparedness for the national championship.  

“We are feeling really good going into the first day here. We have spent a lot of time preparing for this tournament and are excited for the competition.”  

On the line-up that the Cougars were set to face, playing in pool B, the Cougars spent their first day of the championship playing an exhaustive three games in the span of five hours, initially facing off against the Trent’s Excalibur(s), the Bishop Gaiters, and the Queens Gaels. Kannenberg went on to say a quick word on the initial teams the Cougars were set to face off against.  

“The competition will be very good with a lot of experienced Ontario and Quebec teams participating.”  

He went a bit further, saying, “Looking forward to getting the competition under way.” 

One of the men’s rugby players confirmed his coach’s previous statements, reaffirming the team’s readiness, Ibinabo Bryan explaining that, “We going to play our best. Not thinking of how good the other teams are. We got our strategy which we gonna use.” 

The men clinched their first victory in their first game on the rugby pitch for the weekend, beating Trent’s Excalibur in a game that ended with a result of 17-12 in favour of Regina’s travelling team. The next game offered a less favourable result for the Cougars, playing against Bishop’s Gaiters, the game ended in favour of the Gaiters with a result of 20-0. The next game ended much the same, 38-0 in favour of the Queens Gaels by the end of the third game.  

Saturday’s playoffs offered two games for the Cougars to test their mettle for a second time. Playing off against the Bishop Gaiters for a second time, the first quarterfinal game of the day ended with a result that very much mirrored the previous identical matchup, with a result of 27-0 in favour of the Gaiters. The Cougars improved upon their next game, putting up a fight against Guelph’s Gryphons. However, the game ended in favour of the Guelph Gyphons, the game ending with a fair result of 31-14.  

On the women’s side of the tournament, the lead-up to the championship was as exciting. Coach to the Cougars women’s rugby 7’s, Julie Foster, has spent much of her life on the Rugby pitch, herself competing three times as a Union Rugby player in three World Cups, spanning 1998-2006.  

On the Cougars’ training and the difference in the dynamic of the teams from Regina’s Rugby team to the east’s more thoroughly funded 15’s, Foster commented on the key variance that the Cougars had in their program.  

“Some of the challenges in the differences and sizes of teams that come from the east are that they are teams that have played 15s in the fall and have more available fields to practice on. We don’t get to practice contact skills unless we rent indoor fields, which in turn are pretty costly. Our girls have to fundraise to go anywhere. We usually try and do three or four indoor practices to get used to the contact.”  

On her role to the team as the head coach, she said that, “Taking on the coaching role for the university has been a great opportunity to share the knowledge that I have gained over the years.” 

Lane Mychalchuk, one of the team’s travelling crew, commented on the competition and their first competitors.  

“We haven’t played them before, so I’m super pumped to play a fresh team. We have a really strong group of girls. I’m looking forward to playing Queens. A few years ago, we lost by one try in the last minute or so, and it was a really close game.  I think now with more experience, we won’t let that happen again! It’s a lot of our girls last year (myself included) so It’ll be a bit emotional I’m sure.” 

The women’s side of the championship went well for the first day. Facing off against the Queens Gaels for the first game, the women lost their first game when the Queens Gaels beat the Cougars with a result of 33-0. The following game brought a much better outcome for the Cougars, beating out St. Lawrence College Vikings, the Cougars won their second game with a result of 27-0.  

The next game brought more of a battle to the Cougars, though they won the match,  beating the Montreal Carabiners with a close result of 20-15, giving the girls a favourable first day record of 2-1. The second day ended with Regina out of the running, playing their first game of the day in the fourth quarter final, the Cougars lost to Guelph’s Gryphons in a game that ended in a result of 27-5. The consolation final, being their next and final game, was played against the University of Alberta Pandas, who served the Cougars a final score of 48-0 in favour of the Pandas.  

Mychalchuk elaborated on how the team felt about the stellar first day. 

“Our first day was amazing. We won against SLC and it was a really great game. We made a lot of things happen and were gelling really well. Then we played Montreal and played unreal. Such a close game, and super intense. We ended up winning by one try scored in the last play of the game. We wanted it so bad and just played with our hearts; we were in such a high after and just had so much fun. It’s amazing to see our hard work pay off.” 

Continuing further on the challenges that the team faced during the weekend, Mychalchuk commented on previously playing the Jan 19, where the Pandas won over the Cougars 54-10.  

“Challenging moments were playing U of Alberta again after seeing them in Edmonton. They’re a such a strong team, so we were a little nervous to see them again.” 

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