On Sept. 17, the Redbirds (2–0) took the field to face off against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees (1–1) for their second RSEQ game of the season. After a win over the Carleton Ravens last week, the Redbirds dazzled a rambunctious whiteout crowd with a 31-19 victory on home turf.
The Gee-Gees opened the scoring with an early try, but failed to convert the kick to earn the extra two points. Despite conceding first, the Redbirds fought back. Leading scorer and captain Monty Weatherall stepped up and calmly converted a penalty kick shortly afterward. Then, fourth-year flanker Zachary Auger pierced the Gee-Gees’ defence to score the Redbirds’ first try. Weatherall’s subsequent conversion allowed the Redbirds to take a 10-5 lead into the break.
The second half worked much more in the Redbirds’ favour. A quick try by winger Ferreol Amigues invigorated fans. Weatherall delivered another poised kick to secure the additional two points. The Gee-Gees, however, did not go quietly and fought back to cut the lead to 24-19—only a try away.
With their opponents within striking distance and cheered on by their boisterous fans, the Redbirds began firing on all cylinders. The game’s climax, Alex Pantis’ try in the last minute of play, electrified the stands. One final Weatherall conversion capped off the night as the referee blew the final whistle. On cue, the crowd erupted into cheers as the team saluted them.
Over the 80 minutes of play, Weatherall added 11 points to his tally. The fourth-year fly-half from Amersham, U.K. was on the mark for all four conversions, as well as for the lone penalty. Wingers Ferreol Amigues and Alexandre Laurendeau also chipped in their first tries of the season, contributing to a balanced offensive effort. Finally, senior tight-end prop Alex Pantis broke through the defence to earn his third try of the season and cap off the win.
“We dominated the first half in terms of possession and territory, but didn’t come home with the points, a couple of errors, [the] scrum was very strong, [the] lineout was a bit of mess—we got to work on that,” said head coach Ian Baillie, assessing the team’s performance to The McGill Tribune. “Our goal this year is to host a playoff game and give ourselves an opportunity to win the final.”
Gaspard Poire, a second-year team fullback, echoed that there were some things to improve on, but also expressed gratitude for the immense crowd turnout.
“We conceded a try at the beginning and it’s a very difficult way to start a game when you are losing, as it affects the confidence, but we built and built and we won,” explained Poire. “But we are lucky to have the chance at McGill to have energy from the crowd.”
“The crowd was fantastic, [the] best crowd in the world, everyone was cheering us on, it really really makes a difference. I can’t express how grateful we are for people to spend their Saturdays [here], come out and cheer us on,” added captain Weatherall. “The team is full of so many leaders, it’s a great group of guys. We’re just really happy to just get a win in our first home game.”
Catch your Redbirds back at home against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. for more rugby mania.
Quotable: “Look me in the eyes, hustle, hustle, all hustle!” —Alex Pantis overheard during a mid-game huddle
Moment of the Game: TRY TIME by Alex Pantis in the final minute of play—the veteran punctured the Gee-Gees’ defence, sending both the crowd and the players into a frenzy.
Stat Corner: The McGill Redbirds have won their past five games against the Ottawa Gee-Gees.