Martlets, Rugby, Sports

Gaiters trounce Martlets in season opener

Despite their best efforts, the McGill women’s rugby team kicked off their season with a crushing loss against the Bishop’s Gaiters at the Percival Molson Stadium on Sept. 4. Since 2003, the Martlets have overcome the Gaiters 18 times with only four losses and one tie. The Labour Day weekend game saw a solid turnout for both teams, with the Martlets hoping to start the 2022-23 RSEQ season on a positive note.

The game began with multiple attempts by the Gaiters to break through the Martlets’ defence in the first 15 minutes. A strong effort led by fullbacks Chloe Desjardins and Chloe Dillon kept the Martlets in the clear 30 minutes into the first half. Gaiters forward Katie Locke, however, tore down the Martlets defence in the 31st minute with a spectacular run around the 22-metre line. Locke’s try and subsequent conversion by Michelle St. Laurent led the Gaiters to a 7-0 lead over the Martlets. 

In the remaining period leading into halftime, midfielder Raurie Moffat led the Martlets’ attempt to level the score only to be stifled by a robust Gaiters defence. The first half ended in disappointment for the Martlets with flyhalf Emma Bragg suffering a minor head injury in the 38th minute. Although Bragg was present for the post-game cool down, her selection for the upcoming games is contingent upon a medical test by the team physiotherapist.

The injury and substitution led head coach Allan Swetman to make sudden changes in game tactics in the second half, affecting the team’s performance. 

“The impact of the reserves [and] the shuffling of the team meant that we were a bit clunky in the first part of the second half and it just kind of rolled off from there,” said Swetman in a post-game interview with The McGill Tribune.

Five minutes into the second half, the Gaiters took advantage of a scattered Martlets defence with Katie Locke’s second try and St. Laurent’s conversion leading to a 14-0 scoreline.

The game went downhill for the Martlets from there, with multiple tries and conversions from the Gaiters. In the 66th minute, the Gaiters led 26–0, reflecting the fatigue in the Martlets defence.

According to Swetman, improvements are required in the team’s training regimen to increase stamina to remain competitive throughout the game.

“[The team’s performance] shows that we need to do a little more cardio, [as] we started to ramp down after the break,” Swetman said.

After an unsettling second half, the Martlets trailed the Gaiters 45–0 at the final whistle.

Team captain and hooker Davine Yang applauded her teammates’ spirit and performance in the game but acknowledged the team’s desire to improve over the course of the season. 

“The first half was a strong half, and we just have to keep that up,” said Yang. “[There are] very simple things that we need to work on. In my opinion, it’s an easy fix, and we are not too concerned about it.” 

The Martlets’ next match is against the Carleton Ravens on away turf on Sept. 9. After a tough first game, the team is looking to bounce back and get their first points this RSEQ season. Yang looks forward to leading the Martlets to victory against the Ravens.

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