Québec City, QC- It was a year of change in Québec City, as the famous football school saw a new sport bring them a banner, while their football team fell in astonishing fashion. Regardless, Le Rouge et Or are still golden.
Women’s Rugby: Golden Girls
Université de Laval women’s rugby team took the golden part of their Rouge et Or name seriously in this year’s U SPORTS Rugby Championship. After obliterating everyone in the regular season, the ladies from Laval were crowned national champions for the first time in program history. The 2019 team also made history by being the first ever francophone university to take home the national title.
Simply put, their stats from the 2019 regular season are a sight to behold; an undefeated 6-0 with 241 points for and a mere 26 against. Despite spending a few weeks ranked as the top team in the country by U SPORTS, Le Rouge et Or fell in the RSEQ finals 25-15 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees after crushing the Concordia Stingers 50-5 in the semis.
While some teams might wallow in the disappointment of that final result, the women seemed to take it as fuel on their way to the national championships. They ignored not being considered serious threats for the title as they wasted no time turning heads. In a tough defensive semi-final against Guelph, they pulled out a resolute 21-5 victory, securing their way to taking on championship favourites, Queen’s for gold.
Whether it was momentum or having a chip on their shoulders, Laval’s start to the final game was nothing short of stellar. They grabbed the lead within the first eight minutes as if daring onlookers to continue underestimating them. The entire first half was marked by Laval’s strong physical game, as Queen’s struggled to even get a foot in their opponent’s territory.
The second half saw a reversal of the first, as Queen’s got themselves on the board in under eight minutes. What ensued was a defensive showdown that played itself largely at centerfield, with both teams struggling to get much of anything going. Perhaps fueled by their RSEQ loss, Le Rouge et Or did not seem like they would allow themselves to lose. And they did not, taking home the gold medal for the first time in the program’s fifteen year history by a score of 22-14. Anybody discounting Laval’s rugby program at the start of the tournament was thoroughly converted after their final performance. The team has set themselves up beautifully to continue to be a threat for the national podium for years to come.
Men’s Football: The End of an Era
The Rouge et Or football program experienced a bit of a downturn this year. In a shocking turn of events, they didn’t even get to the UTeck Bowl after losing the Dunsmore Cup 25-10 to Les Carabins on home soil. When asked about their season ending the way it did, Laval head coach, Glen Constantin, said that his team simply made mistakes on which Montréal were quick to capitalize.
What made their Dunsmore Cup loss even more perplexing was the fact that Laval maintained their usual regular season dominance over the course of the 2019 RSEQ season. They ended up with a 7-1 record in which they scored 301 points while giving up 72. Nothing in their play leading into the playoffs indicated that the dynasty was in danger.
Building on the head coach’s comments of having made a mistake, members of the Rouge et Or staff chalked the loss up to not being able to help their young QB get over the nerves and simple inconsistencies that people forgot the program was capable of making. All of this combined for their biggest loss at the hands of archrival UdeM since falling 28-7 all the way back in 2009.
As of yet, Laval hasn’t announced any changes to their program staff, meaning that when and if the 2020 season kicks off, opponents should be weary of Le Rouge et Or as one must assume that they will be out for revenge. They did see 11 players graduate, including 3 men who went in the 2020 CFL draft, all to the Ottawa Redblacks. That being said, a decade long streak of winning the national title has all but cemented Université de Laval as a perennial football threat.