Kingston, Ont. – The rematch that fans have been waiting all offseason for is finally here and it will once again be a heavyweight bout. Sights are set high for the Guelph Gryphons and Queen’s Gaels women’s rugby teams this year and the stage is set for fireworks in their early season clash; this week’s OUA Marquee Matchup, powered by Planters.
For the Gryphons, this will be their first match of the season after watching their fellow OUA-ers take to the pitch a week ago. Among those who have set the wheels in motion on their 2018 campaigns are the Gaels, who traveled to Western to take on the Mustangs on Labour Day weekend. In convincing fashion, Queen’s came away with the win in their 2018 debut, defeating the purple ponies by a 68-10 final in what was truly a team effort. Eight Gaels factored in to the team’s 12 tries, proving that they will once again be tough for the opposition to corral this year.
Among the many members of the no. 4 ranked Tricolour that shone on the pitch in their opener is Sophie de Goede (Victoria, B.C.), who kicked off her campaign with three tries. The second-year multi-sport star took home Rookie of the Year honours last year and is back for what could be an even stronger sophomore season, even after leading her side in scoring a season ago.
Joining de Goede is fellow 2017 all-star Kara Gani (Toronto, Ont.), along with former OUA Rookie of the Year and U SPORTS All-Canadian Nadia Popov (Newmarket, Ont.). And after competing with Canada’s U20 Team at the Tri-Nations Cup, the pair of Dominique Rumball (Scarborough, Ont.) and Rachel Hickson (Ottawa, Ont.) will also be looking to make their marks as part of a deep, fearsome Gaels lineup that should once against contend for a title this season.
Among the obstacles they’ll need to face en route to turning this championship aspirations into reality, however, is the talented Gryphons squad that not only came away with the win in their respective season openers a year ago, but also bookended their undefeated campaign with a championship against those same Gaels.
In the OUA season finale, it was a late push in the second half that ultimately helped the Gryphs’ earn their second consecutive championship and seventh in the last nine years. After taking a 22-5 lead into the half, the Gaels were able to close the gap early on thanks to a pair of tries, cutting the Gryphons’ lead to just 22-17. From there, however, the Guelph side managed to push through for a much-needed try, courtesy of Chloe Runge (Guelph, Ont.), who would follow that up with another score just eight minutes later to help put the game out of reach.
While the final score of the championship, 43-17, may not have reflected the close nature of the match, the season opener certainly did, as a late try from Alexandra Everett (Brockville, Ont.) in the 80th minute was the difference-maker in the team’s 38-31 victory. And after these two and many other hard-fought matches between the nationally-ranked sides have left fans continuously wanting more, Saturday’s marquee matchup will be a sight for sore eyes for rugby fans near and far.
Those planning to attend the event will see Everett return for the Gryphons, but she certainly won’t be alone, as the Gryphs’ maintain a similarly deep squad as their Saturday opponent. Among those who will help Guelph in their quest for a third straight title will be 2017 all-stars Julia Schell (Uxbridge, Ont.), who is just one year removed from being named the Shiels Division Player of the Year, and Emilie Nicholl (Toronto, Ont.); both of whom should play key roles for the no. 7 ranked Gryphons.
The highly-anticipated match will take place in Kingston, as the Gaels will serve as hosts at Nixon Field on September 8 at 1:00pm.