GUELPH, Ont. – The Guelph Gryphons men’s rugby team looked like a side that had something to prove. The Gryphons jumped out to a big lead early and ran past the UPEI Panthers 66-0 in the second game of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship on a cold and wet Thursday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
The Gryphons were coming off a decisive loss in the OUA championship match to the Queen’s Gaels but they were certainly prepared for their opening match in a home environment. Guelph utilized a combination of speed and power to overwhelm the Panthers early, scoring tries in bunches.
“Last week was obviously very difficult but the good news was that we didn’t have to sit around for eight months waiting to play rugby again,” said Guelph head coach Cory Hector. “This tournament is an opportunity to redeem ourselves.”
Flanker Erich Milne had two tries and won Man of the Match honours, while wing Jordan Hofstra, centre Kyle Lagasca, prop Sam Evans, hooker Jack Caylor, fullback Andrew Douglas, scrum half Chris Gray, and flanker Alex Chaffey each added a try for the tournament hosts. Fly half John Sheridan made six converts before giving way to Walsham Owen, who added two more.
Hector wanted his team to cut down on turnovers going forward but he appreciated that they attacked from all areas of the pitch despite the tough conditions.
“It was wet but we were still willing to throw the ball around,” he said. “I like that. We challenged ourselves. We used the wind a little in the first half but we weren’t afraid to run the ball out and play to the open space. And we didn’t allow a point. It’s always nice when you’re defence puts up a zero.”
Guelph poured it on early against the Panthers, scoring the first four tries of the match in the opening 15 minutes. Hofstra got things started when he stretched out across the line in the fourth minute. Milne would add another two minutes later before Lagasca took a flip and ran right through the middle for a quick 19-0 lead following Sheridan’s convert.
The Gryphons’ fourth try, coming in the 15th minute, was the byproduct of an excellent effort from Hofstra, who picked up a loose ball and pitched it to Douglas. Sheridan was good on the convert to send the hosts into halftime up 40-0. They touched the ball down four more times in the second half, the last try coming from Chaffey to close out the scoring.
It was a learning experience for UPEI but the overmatched side showed plenty of heart.
“We got to play against a team at a very high level,” said Panthers’ head coach Charles Waddell. “With hard work in the offseason and next few years, hopefully we can get to that level. They saw how Guelph plays, the way they move the ball. We’ll go home and work on that.
“I was really impressed with our forwards today,” Waddell added. “They held their own against the second-best pack in Ontario. We just need to work on our tackling.”
In other action, the UBC Thunderbirds showed their class early in the inaugural Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship. The Thunderbirds looked sharp in the tournament’s opening match, defeating the RSEQ champion Concordia Stingers 46-0 at Alumni Stadium in Guelph
For more information on results and recaps, visit Tournament Landing Page
David M. DiCenzo | Sports Information Assistant
Department of Athletics | University of Guelph
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