Rookie Marauder Cindy Nelles achieved about as much as one could hope in a freshman season. She racked up 99 total points in her first campaign in Maroon and Grey, and was subsequently named as the OUAs Rookie of the Year as a result. Sil Sports’ Maggie Cogger-Orr catches up with the rookie to discuss rugby, video games and dance moves.
Maggie Cogger-Orr: What made you decide to come to McMaster?
Cindy Nelles: Mainly because it had the program I was interested in (Engineering) and a great rugby program. The facilities also were a big part of what drew me in. Also seemed like the place I would fit in the best. It was the place to be.
MC-O: Obviously you’re only in first year but what so far has been your favourite rugby memory at Mac?
CN: Probably training camp. A bunch of things stick out, ranging from meeting all the other rookies to dropping a weight on my toe in the first two days and having my coach think I was completely stupid. The trip to CIS nationals with the whole team was also a great time.
MC-O: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
CN: I mostly just try to do the same thing I do every morning, eat my regular bowl of cereal. I also like to be by myself for a bit before a game, thinking about game goals.
MC-O: Who’s your favourite international rugby team to cheer for (other than Canada)?
CN: I guess England for the women’s game, I really like watching Maggie Alphonsi [England’s open side flanker] play. For men’s rugby I don’t really have a favourite, I just like watching quality rugby, although I guess I was cheering for New Zealand during this year’s World Cup.
MC-O: Do your teammates have a nickname for you?
CN: One of the vets started calling me Snelles (pronounced snell-es) which is basically just my first initial and my name...I don’t really know how it started. I’m also called ‘greyhound puppy’ by one of our captains along with Tash [Natasha Turner] because we’re both tall and lanky and tend to goof around together and wrestle.
MC-O: Do you have any pet peeves?
CN: When people sit around you in a lecture and they start speaking to each other in a language other than English and they operate as though they can’t be heard just because they are speaking another language. When people can clearly hear them! Or people who play Tetris in class on their laptops ahead of me. I have Tetris A.D.D. and I get so distracted.
MC-O: What’s your perfect Subway sandwich?
CN: Ham sub on brown bread, with lettuce, cucumbers, pickles, green peppers and mustard.
MC-O: If you could only have one video game to play for the rest of your life what would it be?
CN: I feel like I’d have to go with Tetris.
MC-O: That doesn’t really count. I mean like Nintendo or Playstation.
CN: Oh okay. Definitely Super Smash Brothers then. Only for the Nintendo 64 though.
MC-O: What’s the top played song on your iPod lately?
CN: Well I don’t actually own an iPod but the songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately are probably ‘Take Care’ by Drake or ‘Starship’ by Nicki Minaj.
MC-O: What’s your favourite pump up song for before a game?
CN: I don’t really listen to a whole lot of music before games but if I do, it’s got to be Eminem.
MCO: What’s your favourite type of drink?
CN: Chocolate Milk
MC-O: When you were in elementary school what did you want to be when you grew up?
CN: I wanted to be a vet since I was in kindergarten, but then I realized you had to spend all day with sick animals and I reconsidered.
MC-O: If you were a dance move what would you be? Like the running man or the sprinkler.
CN: The awkward white girl dance.
MC-O: How would you describe that to our readers?
CN: Basically it’s awkwardly swaying to the music with various hand movements and clapping.
MC-O: What was the last book you read (for non academic purposes)?
CN: Over Christmas I read Paper Towns, which was pretty good. In the near future though, I really want to jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon and read those books.
MC-O: If you could have any super power what would it be?
CN: That’s so easy. Teleportation obviously!
MC-O: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
CN: It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up. And that if you keep working eventually you’ll get what you want.
The Marauders’ perfect record did not survive their trip to Guelph, but their season itself is far from over.
Losing for the first time this season, the McMaster women's rugby team fell to the Guelph Gryphons 36-5 in the OUA Championship on Oct. 29.
Played on the Saturday night at Varsity Field, the game marked the toughest test the dominant Gryphons have faced all season. By reaching the final, both teams had already claimed their place at the CIS tournament, to be held in Peterborough on November 3-6.
The Marauders came into the match with a 7-0 record, having earned a CIS tournament berth by defeating the Brock Badgers in the OUA semifinal. It will be the program’s first appearance on the national stage since the tournament’s inception in 1998.
OUA All-Star Natasha Turner scored the lone try for the Maroon and Grey on the day, as the Gryphon's attack proved to be too strong to be denied for long. After pinning Guelph in their end early, the Marauders were unable to capitalize on a cold night that saw numerous ball-handling errors.
The Gryphons were able to turn defence into offence, and the second-ranked team in the nation did not look back. The title is the Gryphons fourth in a row and 11th since it was first contested in 1994.
Both teams will venture to Peterborough this weekend to compete at the CIS Championships. The Trent Excalibur, who were knocked out of the OUA playoffs early by the Queen's Gaels, will also compete as hosts, giving the province three representatives at the tournament.
Rounding out the competition are the top-ranked St. Francis Xavier X-Women (the AUS champions), the Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions) and the Lethbridge Pronghorns (Canada West champions).
The X-Women have been ranked first in the nation all season long, and defeated Acadia 60-0 in the Atlantic final for their 14th straight conference title. Lethbridge also enjoyed a dominant undefeated season, culminating with a 41-0 shutout of Alberta in the title match. The title was their sixth in a row.
Laval is yet another undefeated champion heading to Ontario, having beaten Concordia 43-27 in the RSEQ final.
Trent is hosting the tournament for the second year in a row, and will look to improve on their 0-3 mark posted last year.
St. Francis Xavier will be looking to defend their 2010 title, and earn their third overall. Lethbridge looks to return to the winner’s circle after winning three titles in a row, from 2007 to 2009.
Pool A will consist of St. FX, Trent and Lethbridge, while McMaster, Laval and Guelph will play in Pool B. This setup guarantees a rematch of the OUA final between the Marauders and Gryphons.
The fifth place, bronze medal and gold medal games will be played on Nov. 6. Matches will be live-streamed on SSN Canada.
For the first time, the McMaster women’s rugby will play in the CIS Championships.
After earning a semi-final victory last weekend, Mac has earned a spot in the OUA final and clinching a berth in at nationals for the first time in the program’s history.
They’ll face powerhouse Guelph, the only other undefeated team on the year, on Saturday for the title.
Mac’s historic victory is thanks to a 31-10 victory over the Badgers at Back Ten Field on Oct. 22, a comprehensive win that saw a balanced performance from McMaster prove too much for the overmatched Badgers.
Facing better conditions when compared to last week's rainy and cold match, the teams traded possession for the first ten minutes, with the Badgers surprising the heavily favoured Marauders with strong ball play.
The Maroon and Grey offence was not to be denied for long though, as Natasha Turner broke numerous tackles on her way to a try, with rookie Cindy Nelles kicking the convert. The Marauder women soon settled into a rhythm, pushing play consistently into Brock territory.
After a Nelles penalty kick, Turner scampered for her second try of the day. Yet another successful convert from Nelles meant that Mac would take a comfortable 17-0 lead into the half.
The second half saw much of the same for the Marauders. Turner would score her third try of the match off a throw-in, and Claire Lockhart would cap off the day with a try of her own, thanks to a brilliant run from Alex Fairgreive. Nelles would finish a perfect four for four kicking converts.
While the game finished comfortably for the home side, it took some time for the team to kick into high gear. Following the win, coach Cam Mitchell spoke about his team’s slow start and their resilience.
“I think that we played very well. Our first ten minutes was a bit rough, they came and stole a lot of balls on contact, so it took us a while to adjust,” said Mitchell. “I was very proud of what the girls did after ten minutes.”
Lockhart would also draw praise from her coach for her tackling on the day, which saw the Marauders earn another playoff shutout, after blanking Toronto the previous week. The coach discussed his team's recent defensive success.
“We've played the exact same system all year,” he explained. “We've always had good tackling, it's just that the system's come together and things have tightened up, so if one person misses a tackle we're there to help them now.”
Indeed, the Marauders have been using the same system all year, a system that has been spearheaded by captain Maggie Cogger-Orr. Mitchell spoke to the importance the third year fly half has had.
“Maggie basically holds everything together,” said the coach of his captain. “She makes all the decisions out there, she calls the plays, basically I help develop the system but on the field I try and shut up and let her run things and she does a very good job.”
The Marauder offence was led by the usual suspects, including Turner, Kim Ngai and Nelles. The coach applauded their performance, noting the impact the players have had.
“It's huge because it makes simple plays work very well,” said Mitchell. “We don't run too much fancy stuff, we just stack our athletes against their athletes, and I think we have a pretty favourable comparison.”
As the match ended, many Marauder veterans were visibly emotional as they realized it would be their last match on Back Ten Field. However, there is still rugby to be played, as the team has booked a date with the four-time defending OUA champion Guelph Gryphons.
The Gryphons hosted Queen's in the other semifinal, and in a form true to their season-long dominance, Guelph shut out the Gaels 50-0. Queen's simply had no answer for the attack and defensive strength of the Gryphons, who showed why they have owned the OUA and were ranked second in the nation after the regular season.
A McMaster-Guelph final has long seemed inevitable, with both teams running the table in the regular season. Fans of OUA rugby will undoubtedly be watching the two best teams in the province battle for supremacy, with two unbeaten teams going head-to-head.
The match will be played at Guelph's Varsity Field on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.
Coach Mitchell explained his strategy for taking on such a daunting opponent in one word.
“Pressure. They are a very good offensive team, they put up a lot of points. We just want to put them under pressure, make them make mistakes and see how they are in a game against a more evenly matched team,” the coach explained.
While the semi-final win guarantees a historic berth at Nationals, Mitchell said his team is focused on the OUA title game first and foremost.
“We're looking at the OUA Championship first, and we'll worry about Nationals next week,” he said.
For those interested in being on hand for the OUA final, a fan bus will be travelling to Guelph on Oct. 29, under the direction of McMaster’s Department of Athletics and Recreation. Tickets for the trip are $5.