The usual as Gryphs, Queen’s to meet in women’s rugby final

The usual as Gryphs, Queen’s to meet in women’s rugby final

GUELPH – And now for something completely expected.

The Guelph Gryphons and Queen’s Gaels are to meet yet again to decide the OUA women’s rugby championship.

“That’s been a rivalry for quite a few years now so we’re looking forward to play our game plan and see how we come up against Queen’s,” Gryphon coach Colette McAuley said.

The Gryphs grabbed their berth in Friday night’s final in Kingston with a 50-0 blanking of the Brock Badgers in semifinal play Saturday on Varsity Field.

That win came a day after the Gaels downed the Western Mustangs 45-5 in Kingston in the other semifinal.

The Gryphs and Gaels are to meet Friday on Nixon Field on the Queen’s campus. It’ll be the sixth consecutive season that Guelph and Queen’s will contest the final. The Gryphs won 32-23 in 2021, 39-14 in 2018 and 43-17 in 2017 while the Gaels won 29-24 last year and 46-17 in 2019.

It’ll also be the 15th consecutive appearance in the OUA final for the Gryphs and they’ve captured the league banner nine times in that run. Other title wins came in 2016 (24-7 over McMaster), 2012 (10-6 over Queen’s), 2011 (36-5 over McMaster), 2010 (54-5 over Queen’s), 2009 (39-7 over Western) and 2008 (14-0 over Western).

The last time the Gryphs and Gaels didn’t meet in the playoffs was 2008. Every season since then they’ve either faced Queen’s in the championship tilt or beaten the Gaels in the semifinals.

The Gryphs and Gaels did clash in the regular season with Queen’s winning 25-20 in Kingston Sept. 23.

“We were winning until the last minute and 50 seconds so we know it’s going to be a good match,” McAuley said. “It’s a good match-up so we’ve got to keep executing our game plan and trusting that we can play a lot of phases and not get too impatient. That’s the one thing. We just don’t need to force — we forced a few of the passes here today. A few things that just went to ground when we need to just take contact and trust in our ability to maintain possession and keep going forward. That’s basically what we need to keep in mind, be patient. The tries are not quite as easy to get against Queen’s so we just need to have trust in our ability to go down the field.”

The last time the Gryphs didn’t reach the championship match was 2007 when they were ousted from the semifinals. However, they rebounded to win the bronze medal and they also beat Queen’s in quarter-finals.

That kind of performance puts plenty of pressure on the Gryphs to keep the streak going.

“It’s huge pressure,” McAuley said. “2 a.m., I was up this morning. It is a lot of pressure. Everyone wants to knock off the people that have been there and Brock’s a great team. The score didn’t show it today, but they have excellent athletes so I knew they were going to bring it and bring their A game. The Gryphons, we were just on today. Our connections and our support lines, they were true and they didn’t hesitate. They trusted each other to be there and that’s why you saw the result that you did.”

Saturday, the Gryphs grabbed a 28-0 lead by halftime.

“I’m really proud of the girls because we’ve been working hard,” McAuley said. “The continuity that we’ve been working on really came together. I was a bit worried because we’ve not played in three weeks. Luckily the intrasquad games we’ve put together on the Friday night’s really helped because there was no falter in our intensity when we made substitutions and the different combinations we were trying today. They all seemed to just be able to connect and go forward and maintain possession which was what we were trying to do today.”

The Gryphs can field a team with its second- and third-stringers that would be tough for some of the lower lights in the league to handle.

“I have such a great crew,” McAuley said. “We were able to carry 50 athletes this year and, honestly, the rookies coming in are playing amazing and then those second- and third-years are really fighting and our veteran squad.”

Karenna Ottywill had two tries and a penalty goal for the Gryphs while Abby Auger, Lily Stewart, Madeline Di Girolamo, Taylor McKnight, Maddy Ryan and Maddy Hobson each had one try. Tausani Levale also had a penalty goal and two converts.

Kicking converts were a bit of a problem for the Gryphs Saturday as they missed six of them.

“Our kicks weren’t on today for our converts, but other than that our decision making was very, very good,” McAuley said. “We’re really happy with the game plan and the execution of the game plan and that maturity. We’re getting there.”

By winning the semifinal the Gryphs also gained a berth in the U Sports national championship tournament set to go Nov. 1 to 5 at Quebec City.

Friday’s OUA final is to start at 7 p.m.


  • Guelph Sports Journal