After a dominating 77-3 victory over the Carleton Ravens in their Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season opener, the McGill Redbirds rugby (1–1) faced off against the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS)’s Piranhas (2–0) on Sept. 16 at Percival Molson Stadium. In a hard-fought match, the reigning RSEQ champions were unable to repeat the offensive prowess of their first game, falling to the Piranhas with a final score of 20-3.
The midday sun burned hot and bright as the teams took to the field for the game in front of a rowdy crowd of 925 attendees. The game started on a rough note for the Redbirds as the Piranhas scored their first try and secured their conversion for a five-point lead just three minutes into the game. However, soon after, McGill outside centre Martin Laval successfully converted a penalty kick to make the score 5-3. The Redbirds’ efforts were not enough to keep ÉTS from advancing their lead—the opposing team’s successful penalty kick put the score at 8-3 by the end of the first half.
At the start of the second half, both teams hit the field with renewed energy. As the sun began its descent toward Mont-Royal, the Piranhas extended their lead with a pair of tries and a successful conversion. Though McGill’s forwards took valiant attempts to break into the ÉTS try zone until the final moments of the game, ÉTS displayed solid defense and prevented the Redbirds from scoring a single try.
The atmosphere at the stadium grew tense as several physical altercations between McGill and ÉTS outside of play sparked cries of protest from the crowd. In a post-game interview with //The Tribune//, head coach Ian Baillie explained that the aggression displayed during the game was nothing unusual, but that ÉTS used it strategically to slow the pace of play.
“We play a hard sport,” Baillie said. “Very, very physical. There might be a push or shove here or there just guys trying to take advantage or exert a little authority [….] To [ÉTS’s] credit they were able to slow the game down a good bit when they were in the bin, so good on them for that.”
In McGill back row Ian McDowell’s opinion, the loss will not stop the team from achieving their goals of winning the provincial RSEQ championship and qualifying for the national championships, just as they did in the 2022-23 season.
“Obviously we’re driving for an undefeated season, but we didn’t do it last season, and we just got better and we finished really high, right?” McDowell said. “It’s a blip in the season, it just means we need to get back to practice, work hard, and work from here.”
McGill flanker Dakota Stevenson also spoke of the loss to ÉTS in reference to their 2022-23 season to highlight that the team can still succeed through hard work and practice.
“We had a historic year last year and we lost a game we should’ve won early on in our season,” Stevenson explained. “All we got to do is take this on the chin and improve. Sometimes the best teams need to lose together to achieve their goals.”
//McGill will next play University of Ottawa (1–1) on Sept. 24 at Matt Anthony Field.//
Moment of the game:
Midway through the first half, Laval captured the ball from an ÉTS kick and ran it up the sideline, swiftly dodging several of the opponent’s defense to emphatic oohs from the crowd.
“I don’t think this changes anything. Our goal is always, finish [on] top [….] This may affect our standing, this may affect how we place at the end, but it doesn’t change our end goal which is winning RSEQ again and going to nationals.”
–– Ian McDowell on how the results of the game impact the team’s goals.
Stat Corner: Three yellow cards were issued throughout the game, all of which went to ÉTS.