Photos by Jenny Fisher
This Saturday, November 8 the Trent Men’s Rugby season came to an end with a silver medal from the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association final against the Humber Hawks, bringing to a close a very successful season for the team.
Over the entire the season, the Trent team suffered only two losses.
The season started strong from the very beginning, even before the regular games began, with wins against the University of Waterloo and a Queens University club team. “We had two exhibition games,” said head coach David McCully, “we won both of those and played pretty well.”
After the success of the exhibition games, Trent suffered a disappointing loss in their regular season opener. On Friday, September 12, a close-fought game against Fleming ended with Trent losing by just one point, the final score sitting at 14-15.
A loss is always a shame, but McCully believes there was a silver lining to this one.
“It was tough to lose but I think we probably benefited a bit from that disappointment because we put a lot of work in over the next couple weeks to try and make up for that,” he said.
Their work paid off, as the team suffered no more defeats for the remainder of the regular season, besting Seneca 43-24, Algonquin 50-36, Loyalist 63-5, Fleming 31-19, and St. Lawrence 33-17 to put them into the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association semi-finals.
The victorious rematch against Fleming was a season highlight for McCully, “that sort of secured the first place in the eastern division for us and home advantage through the playoffs so it was a pretty big game,” he said.
On November 1 Trent achieved a semi-finals victory against Algonquin, 40-29, thereby advancing them to the finals against Humber.
This season isn’t the first time that Trent has made it to the finals, nor is it the first time that they faced Humber there. In 2011 Trent won bronze at the OCAA finals, in 2012 they competed against Humber in the final and took home silver, and in 2013 they played for bronze but lost.
This year Trent took the silver home once more.
The game on Saturday, November 8 was a hard fought battle, with a strong showing from both teams. Competing in a mixture of rain and snow the Trent men’s team held a 6-5 lead over Humber for a portion of the first half, thanks to a couple well-placed kicks by Jesse Leadbetter.
The Trent Excalibur Twitter page stated that this was the first time that the Humber men’s rugby team has trailed in several seasons, a clear accomplishment for Trent.
A strong push by Trent in the final minutes of the last half kept tensions high, but in the end the Humber team won out, and the game ended with a score of 29-18.
McCully feels that one of the reasons behind the strong season was the amount of experience the team had, with a significant portion of the players being seniors.
“Two thirds of the players are returning and then a third are new players so we had a good balance at the start of the year,” he said. “The new guys bought in pretty quickly to what we were trying to do.”
He also thought that some changes to the training program have made a difference as well.
“One of the bigger changes we’ve made in the last four years, that I think is a huge factor in the improvement of the program to get to this level, is that it’s a 12 month commitment.”
Though Trent wasn’t able to take the gold, silver is an incredible accomplishment as well.
“It’s as good a season as we’ve had,” said McCully, and it is a season that the men’s Team can, and should, be proud of.