Saturday Sept. 24 marked the third match of the season for the Brock women’s rugby team, coming out on top of the York Lions 59-12. The beginning of the rugby season has been up-and-down so far for the Badgers.
Going into a Friday match against University of Waterloo on Sept. 16, the Badgers were, “in survival mode,” according to head coach Mark Smerdon.
Fortunately, they pulled out a win against University of Waterloo to get them in the win column for the first time this season.
“We did survive and moved on through Waterloo,” said coach Smerdon, “We didn’t have our best outing. Defensively we were very good, so this week we worked on our attack structure a little bit more.”
The win against Waterloo came after two difficult exhibition games and a frustrating first two games of their season.
The women opened with two exhibition matches at home against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Badgers went scoreless in the two games, losing 29-0 and 7-0. However, their biggest loss may not have come on the scoreboard: injuries incurred during those games forced them to default what would have been their home opener against Guelph. Following another scoreless loss to Queen’s University, the Badgers needed to turn their season around.
“We’ve just been building towards the end of the season.” said Smerdon, “You try to peak at the right time. We had a rough start, we had a lot of injuries. Had to default against Guelph and had a tough weekend the next weekend against Queen’s.”
Saturday’s match against the York University Lions would be their unofficial home opener and a chance to move up to an even record on the season.
The Badgers looked like a team on a mission from the get-go. scoring an early try to take a 5-0 lead. Except for briefly after the ensuing kickoff, York more or less had no possession in Brock territory, being pinned in downfield for most of the half.
Brock continually forced costly turnovers from York and punished these turnovers with big gains. Brock would score their next try and conversion at 17:10, which would spark a wave of offense for the Badgers.
This would include a huge run where the ball carrier would break free from several tackles, charging over half the length of the pitch for a try, a conversion from a tough angle, and another big play in the midfield where the carrier got free and stiff-armed a tackler for the final try of the half.
Brock would enter the second half up 33-0.
The Badgers would not stop there either. They got after it quickly, recovering their own kickoff and getting another try. York would finally get their first points of the match off some nice passing, though missing the conversion, leaving the score at 38-5.
Brock would quickly strike back, however. A maul deep in York’s end was pushed over the try line, giving Brock another try 3 minutes after York’s first points.
Brock would score their final try off a series of long runs, pushing them up to a commanding 59-5 lead.
Though York would add another late in the game, by then the game was already comfortably out of reach. The Badgers would win with a final score of 59-12.
“Today it all seemed to come together,” said coach Smerdon, “Our defense was really good. Had some great defensive stands, a lot of good patience and the attack just started…putting it together.”
Coach Smerdon was also pleased with the atmosphere around the team in their turnaround victory.
“They were having some fun out there, a lot of smiles on the field…we got through the adversity stage of our season right at the beginning. They showed great character and resilience from those injuries and that knock to the ego.” coach Smerdon said about his team. “Just a really good character bunch of players to work with.”
The Badgers play next against University of Toronto at home on Saturday Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. Their full schedule can be found on the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) website.