The winning formula
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For McMaster Women’s Rugby, the last two years have been a dream. A dream that has become a reality for a program still getting used to championship status. The program has back-to-back OUA banners under the leadership of a head coach in only his second year with the program.
Having already made a name for themselves in the world of Canadian university women’s rugby, it is not surprising that the Marauders have often held a comfortable lead against the majority of their opponents this season. Winning a game is one thing, but dominating teams by more than 60 points is another, and is a very telling sign of the quality and skill of this program.
It is no doubt that the national recognition of the program has gained a bigger following of fans and rugby faithfuls. Many might not be too familiar with the program years before the championships. Playing on the team for five years, fullback Rina Charalampis has seen the program develop in calibre and confidence.
“I saw the program change a lot. I think that we pride ourselves on being a program that is not well known. Trusting in our system is critical and we are always trying to go over our mindset. We set a goal on offense and defense. When we reach that goal, we are able to move forward,” said Charalampis.
Ending the regular season with four wins and one loss, the team’s most competitive and emotional game took place in front of a large crowd at Varsity Field when the Marauders took on the Guelph Gryphons for a game deciding the home of the OUA banner and another shot at a national championship. For some players on the team, it was their first time playing an OUA championship game. For others, this OUA championship game would be the last of their athletic career at McMaster.
Defending a title can be difficult and nerve-wracking, but the team took that pressure, turned it into a positive and used it to their advantage.
After an intense competition, McMaster was named the OUA champion for the second year in a row with a final score of 21-13.
The celebration after the final whistle was blown was one of humility and real emotion.
“In our game against Guelph, we were down at one point but we were only down in the sense of the score and not ourselves,” said Charalampis.
The Marauders made an appearance at last year’s CIS Championship and finished second. The team has been preparing for another chance at national victory for a year. Every practice, regular season win and emotion-filled game will boil down to this weekend in Kingston for the 2015 CIS Women’s Rugby Championship.
“We were definitely hungry. After last season ended on Sunday in Guelph, we were already hungry to start for next year. We had a few weeks off and went right into training. Our mindset was we wanted to be back in the exact same position playing in that CIS final. That is exactly what we wanted and nothing was going to stop us.”
Photo Credit: Karen Stepien