Kingston, Ont. – New season, same teams. The Queen’s Gaels and Guelph Gryphons are set to once again clash on the province’s biggest stage, as the powerhouse men’s rugby program will meet for their third straight OUA championship encounter. Each team has claimed victory in the previous championship bouts, and with both sides powering their way to dominant regular seasons, this one is as up in the air as they come.
Both teams earned a bye to their respective semifinals as a result of their top-2 finishes – the Gaels claiming top spot with an unblemished 8-0 records and the Gryphons checking in right behind them at 7-1 – but earned their spot in the provincial finale differently in their penultimate matches. It was relatively smooth sailing throughout for Queen’s in their 59-16 victory over Waterloo – even though they surrendered their second-highest point total of the year in the process – but for Guelph, they needed to navigate through some choppier waters. It took a come-from-behind effort and a late score from Mackenzie Kea (Woodville, Ont.) to help the Gryphons edge the Laurier Golden Hawks, 34-26, on their home turf.
When push comes to shove, however, both teams make a triumphant return to the final match and they’ll do so against a familiar foe. Guelph and Queen’s will line up against each other for the third straight season, and both squads have a check in the win column heading into this season. After battling it out to the bitter end in 2016 – a match that saw Guelph take home the Turner Trophy after a three-overtime marathon – Queen’s earned redemption in 2017 with a dominant performance in front of their home fans. And when it comes to their most recent meeting – one that took to the pitch at the midway point of the season – it was much more the latter than the former.
Despite Guelph getting off to a quick start thanks to two penalty kicks from John Sheridan (Bolton, Ont.), the Gaels came back with a pair of tries from James MacDonald (Surrey, B.C.) and Dylan Young (Toronto, Ont.), respectively. After trading tries early in the second half, Queen’s would put their foot on the gas pedal to extend their lead, keeping their rivals off the scoreboard the rest of the way, while adding another two tries on their end. The score ended up with a 40-13 advantage for the Gaels, and as they added that win to their impressive streak, they’ll now look to extend their consecutive wins to 20 against those same Gryphons.
Looking to turn the tables back in their favour, meanwhile, will be a quartet of Gryphons all-stars, a group that includes scrum half Riley Di Nardo (Toronto, Ont.), back three Andrew Douglas (Chippawa, Ont.), back row Marcello Wainwright (Toronto, Ont.), and their semifinal savior, Kea. The talent-laden roster played their way to 375 points for and just 120 against. The only team who stood taller on the defensive side of the ball was the Tricolour, which means that both offensive units are going to need their A-game to put up points this weekend.
Hoping to carry the host squad to repeat success on their home turf will also be a host of all-star talent who played their way to a league-best 583 points for and a stingy 78 against. Patrick Lynott (Chelsea, Que.) and Nicholas De Lallo (Ottawa, Ont.) offer powerful and aggressive play to power the Gaels’ attack, while the steady and leading presence of players like Lachlan Devir (Toronto, Ont.) and Brendan Blaikie (Markham, Ont.) help establish Queen’s as one of the most well-rounded teams to hit the pitch.
Each of these conference standouts will hope to guide their side to victory when they take the field on Sunday, November 11. The Gaels will once again host the Gryphons in Kingston at Nixon Field at 1:00pm with the conference’s top prize on the line. To see which side earns their second Turner Trophy in the last three years, fans can tune in to all the action, starting at 1:00pm, live on oua.tv or via the corresponding app on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.