C/O Pixabay

Out of school and away from their teams, how do McMaster's athletes spend their time off?

In December, the Silhouette asked athletes how they spent their winter break. With a much longer summer break quickly approaching, it only seemed right to check back in with Marauders athletes as to how they’ll be spending their summer.  

McMaster’s men’s rugby team played their last game of the season on Oct. 23, but that doesn’t mean their training has stopped. Matthew Bazinet, a member of the team, took the time to discuss the training that the team has undergone thus far and the training that its members will be taking on over the course of the summer.  

Heading into the summer offseason, or as Bazinet called it, the “pre-season,” the team continues to hold high expectations of their players in preparation for the season to come. They are provided with training regimes prior to their departure which they must follow almost religiously, regardless of whether they’re able to stay at the school.  

“During the pre-season we are [supposed] to go to the [high performance area] at McMaster. There are certain workouts that you have to complete two to three times a week . . . We focus on growth, so getting bigger and staying healthy and functional,” said Bazinet.  

“During the pre-season we are [supposed] to go to the [high performance area] at McMaster. There are certain workouts that you have to complete two to three times a week . . . We focus on growth, so getting bigger and staying healthy and functional."

Matthew Bazinet, a member of the McMaster Men's Rugby Team

He really stressed the importance of building muscle for the team, mentioning the HPA several times as a critical component for pre-season training. During the summer months McMaster keeps the HPA open through extended hours in an effort to aid its athletes in finding the time in their schedule to keep improving. However, this is only a help to those who opt to remain in Hamilton during their time off.  

“The HPA at McMaster, for people who stay in Hamilton, stays open, and they widen their times so that people who work different shifts are still able to come in and make their lift times. Then, for people that go home [outside of Hamilton], they have to have a sit down with the coaches to discuss where you’re going to be working out, how you’re going to be working out, if you can’t follow the HPA lifts [exactly], how are you going to substitute the exercises,” explained Bazinet. 

The HPA is a go-to spot for athletes that has been mentioned by athletes countless times through the year, as one might expect given the elite atmosphere and training capabilities it enables. Using the HPA or trying to emulate that experience elsewhere for the athletes who don’t remain in Hamilton is just one part of the summer training experience.  

As a team with a fairly short regular season, the rugby team realizes that there’s more to training than just muscle building. Although it is a key component and remains a massive focus for a majority of the summer, it’s also important to keep your game skills sharp.  

As a team with a fairly short regular season, the rugby team realizes that there’s more to training than just muscle building. Although it is a key component and remains a massive focus for a majority of the summer, it’s also important to keep your game skills sharp.  

“It’s really hard to progress as rugby players if you only play six to eight games in a season during the OUA. [Coach] uses the term ‘it’s absolutely vital to our success as a rugby team that everybody, whether they stay in Hamilton, or go home for the summer, that they are playing some form of rugby.’ Those are the requirements in order to uphold your role on the team — two lifts in the summer per week and playing rugby,” said Bazinet. 

Over the course of the pre-season, the team typically has a general goal to work towards. For the upcoming pre-season, the goal is muscle building. Despite that, they still make sure to switch up their training programs through time to continue working towards a well-rounded result before getting back on the field. 

“We do change our regimens usually about once every one to two months . . . We’re mainly focusing on hypertrophy or getting bigger. As we get closer to the season we start to add in more conditioning, we start to add in more functional movement. That’s because you’re now preparing your body for sport, not just getting bigger. That’s just to try and make sure less people get injured over the season,” explained Bazinet. 

"As we get closer to the season we start to add in more conditioning, we start to add in more functional movement. That’s because you’re now preparing your body for sport, not just getting bigger. That’s just to try and make sure less people get injured over the season.”

Matthew Bazinet, a member of the McMaster Men's Rugby Team

In the later months of the summer nearer to the start of the season, the team eventually comes together for a training camp at McMaster. This high intensity camp is meant to get the team back together and working towards a common goal as a unit. Between fitness testing, gelling together and polishing your in-game skills, the team is using this time to ensure they hit the ground running once the season starts.  

“Five days a week during those weeks we practice and get ready for the season . . . The training camp isn’t about brushing up your rugby skills. The training camp is about getting back together and working collectively as a team. That’s the goal of the whole training camp, take in new players, see who’s gonna fit in and build a squad before the season begins,” said Bazinet. 

There is a long journey ahead before many of McMaster’s teams return to play and in that time the Marauders will be found continuing to train all summer long, whether it be in the HPA or in a gym closer to their hometown. There’s a reason why university athletes are so talented and dedicated — even during their time off, the high intensity never stops.  

Photo C/O Noah Hoffman

The night of April 2 was the 95th Annual McMaster Athletic Awards Ceremony to celebrate Marauder excellence. The ceremony celebrated McMaster athletes and staff contributions on and off the court over the past year.

The highest honour, the McMaster Athletes of the Year, was awarded to Max Turek (Ivor Wynne Award) of the cross country team, and Linnaea Harper (Therese Quigley Award) of the women’s basketball team. Both led their team to Ontario University Athletics titles, and Harper went one step further, helping bring home the U Sports title for her team.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvxZ6ElAhq6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Graduating seniors Hilary Hanaka, starting guard of the women’s basketball team, and Andrew Richards, men's volleyball’s starting left side, took home the outstanding graduating student-athlete awards, the Dr. Edna Guest and Dr. Ray Johnson Awards, respectively.

Both athletes have displayed outstanding on- and off-court excellence. Richards and Hanaka had already been recognized by U Sports for their community work this season, so it was only fitting that they took home this honour as well.

McMaster's Rookies of the Year award the Mel and Marilyn Hawkrigg Award, was given to lacrosse player Mitch Pellarin and wrestler Ligaya Stinellis. Stinellis captured a silver medal in the 48kg weight class in her first trip to the OUA Championships, and made McMaster history by becoming the first Marauder woman to win the conference’s Rookie of the Year award.

Pellarin ended the season as McMaster’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 11 assists, which was the highest scoring total among rookies in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.

Claudia Continenza, of the women’s soccer team, took home the Les Prince Award for her community service work, and women's hockey president and student therapist Laura Gelowitz won the Bruce Cochrane award for her service to the Athletics Department.

The Joyce Wignall Award, given to a team in recognition of their charitable contributions as a group, was given to the McMaster men’s rugby team for their various charitable efforts throughout the year.

Last night #MarauderNation gathered to celebrate a fantastic year full of great accomplishments by our student-athletes, both on and off the field. Here’s a recap of how the night went down! Thanks to all that attended! 🎉
.
.
.#GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/z8JfEMFShd

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) April 3, 2019

The night of celebrating excellence was capped off by awarding 51 team MVPs from McMaster's sport teams at the varsity and club level, student-athletes who have competed for four seasons while maintaining good academic standing and coaches who have reached benchmarks in their years of service.

All in all, whether athletes had their their season cut short, or managed to come out on top as provincial or national champions, the annual Awards Ceremony once again rightfully honoured the hard work put in by all the various members of the Marauders athletic community over the past year.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Adriana Skaljin

For the past five years, the McMaster men’s rugby team has been running their own Movember campaign, raising money for men’s health initiatives. Last year, the team collectively raised around $6,100, motivating them to increase their goal for 2018 to $7,000.

The Movember Foundation is the leading charity that focuses on men’s health. They focus on issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. This initiative was started in 2003 and has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects worldwide.

C/O @mcmaster_mens_rugby

[spacer height="20px"]Callum MacLeay, a fifth-year kinesiology student, is leading this year’s Movember campaign. As the club captain on the rugby leadership team, it was his responsibility to take over the Movember initiative, since the club captain is involved with coordinating any off-field fundraising and team bonding. MacLeay has raised over $1,400 since 2015 and has set a personal goal of $1,000 for this year.

“Seeing as last year’s goal was $6,000 and this year’s is $7,000, it would be awesome to reach the realm of raising $10,000,” said MacLeay.    

MacLeay has been participating in Movember for four years now and was inspired by the fact that his grandfather had prostate cancer.

“[This] made [Movember] something easy to engage with because it was something that I personally connected to,” said MacLeay.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bppvsg1lnWw/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Seeing as Movember raises money for men’s health, it is something that connects and affects everyone on the men’s rugby team. This creates a sense of motivation towards making a difference in this area of charitable work.

“[Movember] has ranged to a new focus on mental health, which is a big push that made us want go support [this initiative],” MacLeay explained.

When they first started the campaign, they had around 20 players participating; they now have around 50. This increase in participants shows an increase in support, thus bringing awareness to this initiative’s importance.

“On the field, we come together to achieve a common goal, but to have the camaraderie that comes with a community sense is great, and it is nice to see the newer players join [in helping with Movember],” said MacLeay. “The more you bring awareness, the more people want to get involved. This is due to a sense of empowerment.”

What comes with this sense of empowerment is the understanding that no one is alone and that we are all going through things. With focuses on issues such as mental health, we can remove stigmas and transition into a world that disallows people from suffering in silence.

https://www.facebook.com/mcmastermenrugby/photos/a.1663625013921121/2262852657331684/?type=3&theater

Not only has the men’s rugby team worked towards removing stigmas and promoting men’s health, but they have banded together with other Marauders as well.

“Men’s volleyball, basketball, baseball, and football have joined us in our Movember initiative here at McMaster,” said MacLeay.

“Movember has been a meaningful experience for me since we get to engage with coaches, alumni, and student field therapists in the fundraising, so it [goes beyond] the players. Having everyone come together on something that is bigger than rugby is important, and I think that it helps build camaraderie both on and off of the field.”

On Nov. 29 and 30, the men’s rugby team will be setting up an information table in the David Braley Athletic Centre on campus. They will be selling t-shirts, wrist bands and will be holding a raffle as well. All proceeds will go towards their Movember campaign.

It is without a doubt that the amazing efforts of the McMaster men’s rugby team are instrumental in changing the ways in which we view men’s health, while sparking a conversation around mental health. Change is possible, with some Marauder spirit, camaraderie and a sense of empowerment.

[spacer height="20px"][thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

The McMaster Marauders men’s rugby team was among the six Canadian universities invited to the inaugural Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship this past weekend in Guelph.

Just a week before, the Marauders defended their Ontario University Athletics bronze title in a close match-up against the up-and-coming Laurier Golden Hawks. Their 26-19 win secured their spot in the national championship this past weekend.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game,” said Marauders head coach Dan Pletch. “We lost to Laurier by one point earlier in the season and they play a similar style to us, so we really tried to focus on our defence.”

Although proud of every Mac victory, winning every match is not coach Pletch’s main goal, who is a former Marauder and three-time OUA champion himself.

“My goals are not around wins, losses and championships,” said Pletch. “My goals are always process driven. If you focus on all the processes and things that make for successful teams and successful individuals, the wins and losses take care of themselves.”

Running a player-centric system, the Marauders coaching staff sits down with the players throughout the season and they construct a training plan for the week. Players share what they think their strengths are and what they need to work on.

“Winning or losing the game isn't always within your control,” Pletch said. “But you can control your preparation, your review and your recovery.”

This includes making sure that their first years are taken care of academically and a mentorship program where upper-year players take care of the younger players. As well as a networking program through their alumni to help upper-year players with their career planning and post-university lives. All of this is done in an effort to develop well-rounded student-athletes.

Five of these well-rounded student-athletes, Connor Byrne, Will Kelly, Jack McRogers, Mitch Richardson and Mike Smith, were recently named OUA 2017 Men’s Rugby All-Stars. The group of All-Stars are made up of both dominant players and success stories.

“We have our top guys, like Kelly and McRogers that want to play for Canada at the highest level,” explained Pletch. “And then we have other guys who come to us and are not very athletic, with a limited skill set. But if they work hard and take advantage of everything that we and the athletic department have to offer, they too can be successful.”

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="70" gal_title="rugggby"]

One of the All-Star Marauders, Richardson, has been a standout player over the last few years and even had the opportunity to play for a national development team of a few weeks this season. He has continued to be a strong player for the Marauders all season long.

While Smith, who started his career as a Marauder with limited rugby experience, continued to work hard and was able to become the best tight prop in the league, and one of the best young props in the country.

Then there is Byrne, who played on the Marauders’ development team, the junior varsity team, for the past four years and now has become a starter in his fifth year.

“He really worked hard over the last four years and remained extremely positive,” Pletch said. “Now he is one of the very best players in the league.”

With five All-Stars and the OUA bronze title, the Marauders were more than excited heading into the first university national championships. For Pletch, getting to compete against the top Canadian teams is a great opportunity that forces everyone to get better and raise the standard of their game.

He also believes that the universities is where Rugby Ontario and Rugby Canada should be focusing their development of young rugby players.

“You're dealing with players in the 18-22 age group which is a real vital time for their development,” said Pletch. “I think the national championship will really highlight that and allow players from across the country to be seen to be selected for national teams.”

The Marauders were able to start off the national championship weekend with a crushing 38-11 win against the Concordia Stingers, but unfortunately fell short 6-31 to the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbirds.

This set the Marauders up for another meeting with the Guelph Gryphons in a bronze medal match, who they had lost to twice in the regular season. This time, the Marauders came out strong and had a dominant and remarkable performance, winning 28-3.

Since the Marauders play club rugby in the offseason, they have been playing for seven months straight. So the team will now take the opportunity to go into a much needed recovery mode. They will shut down completely for two weeks and use the remainder of the year to relax and finish off their academic year as strong as their rugby season.

After the much needed winter break, they will officially start back up in Jan. The coaching staff will sit down with each player in an exit interview to review and set goals for the offseason, and elect what offseason program they want to do. Then come next April, when they are starting their club season, the Marauders will be as prepared as they can be to continue their dominance on the pitch.

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

On Sept. 29, McMaster Athletics inducted four McMaster University alumni athletes into the McMaster Athletics Hall of Fame:

The 34th annual induction ceremony and dinner was an intimate gathering held in the Therese Quigley Sport Hall in the David Braley Athletic Centre, with the inductees closest friends, families and supporters in attendance.

The night was filled with memories and laughter as the inductees reflected on their time as student-athletes.

The first inductee, Kwame Aidoo was a cornerback for five years on the Marauders football team. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother Kojo Aidoo, a fellow Marauder football Hall of Fame recipient. Aidoo was a four-time Ontario University Athletics All-Star, Canadian Interuniversity Sports All-Canadian in 2002, the 2004 co-recipient of the Coaches' Award for perseverance and leadership and a member of McMaster's Team of the Decade for 2000-2009.

Throughout his successful career at Mac, one thing Aidoo understood that it would not last forever, so it was important to look towards the future. Now looking back, 20 years removed from the last time he stepped foot on campus as a student, Aidoo attributes his best memories of being a student-athlete to McMaster's family-based atmosphere.

"As much as it's a big university, it is very intimate, so network in the community and get to know your classmates," said Aidoo.

The second inductee of the night, Katie Schmidt, was the pioneer member of the McMaster Women's Golf team. Schmidt captured the OUA women's individual golf title in 2002 and again in 2003. She was also a three-time Marauder Scholar, being recognized for her outstanding academic performance, and won the Edna Guest Award in 2005.

When asked what advice she would give current McMaster student-athletes, Schmidt said, "Play a sport you love and continue to play but work hard at school because that's what means the most.”

Aaron Carpenter was the third inductee, being recognized for four outstanding seasons on the Marauders rugby team. Carpenter was the OUA Rookie of the Year in 2002, and during his time here, he helped his team to three OUA Championships (2002, 2003, 2005) and one silver medal (2004). A three-time OUA All-Star and the OUA Most Valuable Player in 2003, it was no surprise that he took his talents to the professional level in England and to the international stage, playing for the Canadian national team.

"I had an amazing experience," said Carpenter. "It was difficult obviously because you're putting in a lot of time into rugby and trying to prove yourself there as well as trying to stay on top of your classes, so you need to lean on friends and family for support."

Carpenter now resides in England and was not able to make it to the induction, but two of his biggest supporters, his parents, received the award in his honour.

Lastly, Chiara Rocca was inducted for her contribution to McMaster women's basketball. In her first year, Rocca was named OUA Rookie of the Year and a member of the 2004 CIS All-Rookie team. Rocca’s career accomplishments include being a four-time all-star, OUA and CIS Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 2006, two OUA Championships in 2006 and 2008, a CIS bronze medal in 2008 and is currently the all-time leader in OUA career rebounds with 760.

"It was the best five years," reflected Rocca. "The friends I made there are still my friends now. The games that we won I'll cherish but the friends that I made and experiences that I had at Mac is what I'll cherish the most."

The night was an overall success as the inductees were welcomed with open arms to join Marauders legends in the Hall of Fame. Congratulations again to all the inductees.

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

In the men’s rugby team’s season opener, the Marauders took down the Western Mustangs in a hotly contested rematch of the 2016 Ontario University Athletics bronze medal game. In that match, McMaster came out on top and returned home with some hardware. Looking to build off of a successful 2016 campaign, the Marauders are continually building on a new attack system to compete with their opponents.

“The game plan going in was just to keep it really simple,” said coach Dan Pletch. “It was the first game of our season, we had a few brand new players in there...we’re sort of slowly building pieces of the puzzle to our attack system as we go through the season. We wanted to start just doing a few simple things really well and focusing mostly on our defence.”

The Marauders have a long-standing rugby rivalry with the Mustangs. Their win last year was the first time they beat the Western team in a playoff match since the 2010 OUA championship game. Given the history, the team knew to expect an expansive game that would require a strong defensive stand.

Emerging with a 19-12 win, the game was marked by defensive strength and confidence, while also serving as an interesting test to a rugby team that has undergone several significant changes from last year.

With only half of the starting 15 being regular starters in the past, many teams would face a challenge in integrating fresh faces. But coach Pletch found it to be a surprisingly easy transition this season.

“Definitely there was a big turnover but if anything, it was probably a little easier this year,” he explained. “We introduced a totally new attack system last year, so guys were learning it for the first time. But this year, most of the squad would have been exposed to it already, and we are sort of tweaking and fine-tuning some wrinkles. So training camp and preparation was a little easier this year.”

Helping ease the transition and reaffirm the new attack system are veteran players who have already been regular contributors to the team in the past. Prop Mike Smith contributed a try to the Marauders’ win and has helped spearhead their offensive efforts.

“The tight five forwards played really well in general,” coach Pletch said. “Our tight five prop, Mike [Smith], in particular was really solid in the scrum for us. We were able to win a few penalties from the scrum and that allowed us to run into our attack system really smoothly.

Other players like Ryan Gray had to adjust to a brand new position, transitioning from flanker to wing for this season. Gray’s contributions on defence and quick adjustment to his new position impressed coach Pletch.

Heading into their second game of the season, the Marauders looked to really lean into their offensive game and overpower Trent Excalibur on the road and build off of their season opener.

“We were pretty happy with our defence last week to only give up two tries against Western, so we’ve put a lot more of our focus into our attack. Now that we have the basic structure, fine-tuning things and trying to create different options, improve our decision making and running those options when appropriate in the game. We want to continue being sharp on defence and create a few more opportunities and score some more points on attack.”

Mac lived up to that game plan and left Peterborough with a strong 48-19 win on Sept. 9. Now the Marauders will return home for a Sept. 17 matchup against the Guelph Gryphons. The last time the Marauders and Gryphons faced off was in last year’s semi-finals, which Guelph won before moving on to win the 2016 OUA Championship.

Guelph will certainly pose a tough test for the rugby team but will need to be defeated if the Mac men want to contend in the OUA playoffs once again. The Marauders are off to a strong start and owe a lot of their success so far to a game plan that goes beyond Xs and Os.

“We have a young squad that’s working very hard, they’re improving every game,” said coach Pletch. “We’ve been working for the last two or three years really on improving the team culture and making sure that both on the field, as especially off the field, that everybody feels included in all the events and the activities, whether that’s a starting varsity player or our last junior varsity player on the bench, everyone feels equal. I definitely think we are going in the right direction that way.”

This mentality has influenced Marauders’ balanced gameplay on the field and is giving them a leg up on the competition early in the OUA season.

By: Eamon Hillis

The McMaster men’s rugby squad took a trip to Guelph on Oct. 21 for a battle against the undefeated Gryphons. The Marauders were looking to avenge last season’s 47-15 Ontario University Athletics semi-final loss, but were unsuccessful. The Gryphons easily walked through the McMaster men 56-3, who finishing the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record.

Guelph was the only team to be undefeated this season, and they will be the clear favourites for the upcoming OUA championships. They were the 2014 and 2015 OUA silver medalists, losing close matches to Queen’s each of those years.

Going into Friday’s game, it was clear that the McMaster men had their work cut out for them. In addition to an undefeated record, Guelph had put up 367 points through their seven games, with only 48 against. To challenge Guelph would be a formidable task, especially as the visiting team before a hostile crowd. Regardless, the Marauders went into the game with confidence.

“We are definitely the underdogs,” McMaster head coach Dan Pletch said before the game. “They’re at home, they’re undefeated, plus we haven’t beaten them in a few years. Still, we are very confident.  We’ve had a few good performances this season and I believe we are building nicely to the playoffs.”

Although their 53-point margin of defeat appears deflating on paper, it was not an indication of the team’s ability. McMaster did not have a full roster going into the game.

“We have four or five guys who are currently out with injuries,” Pletch said. “Most of them should be healthy in the coming weeks, which will be a good help.”

With this loss to Guelph, McMaster fell from second to fourth in the standings, losing out on a potential first-round bye.  Queen’s and Western both jumped Mac in the standings, with Queen’s getting the first-round bye.

“This was a very strong Guelph team,” Pletch said after the game. “Whenever we made any mistakes they jumped at us and were able to score. Some of our performance was quite good, it was just a few mistakes here and there and they took advantage. Overall, the boys played really hard, and in some ways, it was the best game we’ve played all season. But, Guelph is a very good team.”

OUA playoffs begin on Saturday Oct. 29, where McMaster will host the fifth-seeded Trent Excalibur in quarter-final action. Mac will be looking to go into next week strong.  They will hopefully be adding some players to their roster who are returning from injury.  In addition, with over a week to recover from their Friday game, the team will be able to take advantage of that extra day’s rest.

“We’ve had a couple of guys who have been injured and could be coming back next week,” Pletch said. “Also, with the game being on Saturday we’ll be able to get three or four hard training sessions in plus an extra day’s rest before the weekend.”

Mac beat the Excalibur 27-12 during homecoming festivities, and will be hoping to repeat that outing this weekend.

By: Griffin Marsh

As the fall break got underway, the McMaster Men’s Rugby team took on the Laurier Golden Hawks in an afternoon clash on Ten-Acre field. The Marauders showed their depth, scoring from a variety of sources, and made light work of the Golden Hawks, leading to a commanding 37-7 victory.

It was another positive result in a strong run of form, since a frustrating loss to the Queen’s Gaels on Sept 24. In the last three games, the Marauders have outscored their opponents 108-20, showing success on both sides of the ball.

This offensive and defensive productivity shows the growth and refinement the team has gone through over the latter half of the season.

“The players now have a good understanding of what we are trying to do out there, both on attack and defense” said head coach Dan Pletch. “We have been building nicely all season, each game looking better than the last.”

Pletch noted that this recent success was not a change in tactics or any new addition to the system

“We are just getting more and more effective as we go and fine tune and clarify things.”

The four McMaster tries scored in the game came from four different players, along with another commanding performance from rookie William Kelly, who contributed 17 points in the victory.

This is a testament to the team’s attitude.

“It’s definitely the best group we have had in terms of team dynamics in the last few years. We don’t have any selfish guys, there is no egos on the team,” said Pletch.

This depth also comes from the team’s structure, as the flexibility built into each play call allows for guys to shine from all parts of the field.

The conclusion of this season looks bright for the Marauders, and the results keep coming. Since the time of the interview with the head coach, the men moved through Toronto with a 33-0 victory.

All of this puts the Marauders in a great place entering the final game of the season against league leaders Guelph on Oct. 21. McMaster currently sits in second place, which would provide at least a first-round bye once playoffs begin. Pletch ensured the team’s focus as the season comes to an end remains one game at a time.

“We are always just focused on the performance, we have certain measures that we are looking for and that we are trying to improve each game.”

Clearly, Pletch’s assessment of his team is ringing true, and we are in for an interesting final few weeks of the season.

Playoffs are just around the corner, and the Marauder community should definitely be excited at the prospect of another McMaster team in contention to succeed.

By: Eamon Hillis

At the height of homecoming festivities on Oct. 1, the McMaster men’s rugby squad defeated the Waterloo Warriors 38-13.

Filling the bleachers at 10 Acre Field to capacity, the McMaster supporters showed themselves boisterous. There was a celebatory atmosphere in the air, and before a sea of maroon and grey fans, the Marauder men did not disappoint.

In the week preceding their game against Waterloo, Mac lost a competitive away game to the Queen’s Gaels 27-11. It was the team’s first defeat of the season, and although difficult to swallow, they were proud of it nonetheless. According to members of the team, the score did not reflect the game.

“A lot of things went right [against Queen’s],” head coach Dan Pletch said. “In looking at the game statistics, it was by far the best we’ve played all season. In terms of our ball retention, tackling percentage, and scrum stats, it was great.”

“We really played well and gave ourselves a good chance to win. But what often happens when you play against a good team is that your mistakes get turned into tries against you.”

Rookie flyhalf William Kelly, who scored six points on two penalty goals in their game against Queen’s, is hopeful that his team will be able to redeem themselves.

“In our match against Queen’s we were probably the better team,” said Kelly. “We just got unlucky against an experienced opponent. But, I think we’ll be able get them back further on down the road.”

Looking to bounce back against an opponent lower in the standings, Mac came into Saturday’s game against the 0-4 Warriors with confidence. Coach Pletch used this opportunity to take rest where it was needed.

“We have a few guys who are carrying a few nagging injuries,” Pletch said before the game. “It will be a mix of a lot of experienced guys out there, but also some new guys thrown in as well.  Having said that, we expect every week that we will improve and get better. It doesn’t matter who is in, or who the opposition is.”

Throughout the game, Waterloo played a tough style and showed themselves to be fine opposition, not allowing Mac to run the score up. This led to a hard-hitting, fan-friendly game, with both sides playing physical defense.

Fourth-year wing Matthew Nicol had an exciting game, displaying his remarkable speed and contributing two tries in the second half.  Kelly chipped in 13 points on two conversions and three penalty kicks.

William Kelly has been a consistent source of scoring for the Marauders. Through five games, Kelly leads the Ontario University Athletics conference in points with 50, and is responsible for over 40 percent of the team’s total points this season.

When asked upon which players have made a significant impact to this season’s success, Pletch noted that many of his players have contributed, but was quick to give praise to third-year prop Mike Smith.

“[Smith] is relatively new at prop but he’s worked very hard and has done a great job solidifying our scrum—which is something that has been a weakness the last couple years. We have a lot of good players on the wing, but without a good scrum it’s difficult to get going.”

Smith and his team are 4-1 in regular season play and are fourth in the OUA rankings.

They will face the Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 7 at home, where they will try to continue their success moving closer to the post-season.

By: Eamon Hillis

As the heavy rain turned 10-Acre Field soft, the McMaster men’s rugby squad defeated Royal Military College, progressing to a 3-0 start to the season.

In this their latest triumph, the McMaster men showed poise to overcome a poor opening half and close out the match 23-5. Their RMC opponents, respected around the league, have historically held a reputation of fit and physical play. And this year, despite their 0-3, was no different. Their grinding style presented fundamental challenges for the Mac team, who kept the score close in the beginning.

“The first half was a little sloppy,” head coach Dan Pletch said. “RMC is a big, physical team and they put us under pressure. It took us a half to get into our systems and to figure out what we were trying to do.”

These difficulties were magnified by the rain, which fell throughout the game. The ball became difficult to handle, and for the skilled McMaster team who likes to play to the outside, adjustments had to be made.

“The weather wasn’t good for us,” Pletch said. “We try to play a fast style, throwing the ball out to the wings, but we couldn’t do that today and so we had to change our strategy. We did have a good second half though and the boys pulled through.”

Mac, who were trailing 5-3 at half, posted 20 straight points to run away with the win.

Two weeks ago, McMaster opened the season with a big win over the Western Mustangs, avenging their 2015 Ontario University Athletics bronze medal defeat, and establishing themselves as a significant threat for this year’s championship title. McMaster is one of only two OUA teams who remain undefeated thus far, the other team being Guelph.

Throughout the first three games, William Kelly, the rookie fly-half from Hamilton, has bloomed into an integral piece to the team’s success. Taking the kicks for McMaster, Kelly put up 13 points on Saturday, which included two penalty goals, two conversions and a drop goal.

“He is a mature player, beyond his years,” Pletch said. “He has a good background in rugby and spent last season playing at a development academy in England.  We knew he would be good, but for a first year to come in and play fly-half for us is impressive.”

Prop Mike Smith and centre Mitch Richardson were responsible for the two tries Mac scored against RMC on Saturday.

In the face of the team’s exciting start, coach Pletch continues to uphold strong team values and keep himself and his players focused.

“Our goals for me are individual for each player. I want each of them to reach their own potential, and if we can do that, we’ll hopefully win a few games by the end of the season.”

Mac plays in Kingston this Saturday against the 2-1 Queen’s Gaels.  The Golden Gales were the 2015 OUA champions, meaning that a win this weekend could make McMaster one of the favourites come post-season play.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenu