McMaster Women’s Rugby Holds Their Own Amid Season Opening Defeat

Hamilton, ON- As the calendar turned into September, OUA women’s rugby season was back. For the McMaster Marauders women’s rugby team, it meant game time after two weeks of training. For fourth-year Taylor Wood, it was a feeling of “pure excitement.” 

The Marauders were facing the Western Mustangs in their season and home opener on Sept. 2. This was coming off a year where they reached the OUA playoffs after a 3-3 record. This was coming off their first year under head coach Chris Jones. 

Now, in the second year under Jones, they were facing an early deficit after Western scored a try to make it 7-0 two minutes into the game. Wood answered with a run to score a try of her own to get the Marauders on the board. “To do it in the first game felt really great,” Wood noted. 

However, Western then scored three straight tries to lead 22-5. They kept possession and continually pushed into the McMaster end in the first half.

“For our first game back, we held our own,” Marauders fourth-year Lina Bakri noted. “Our defence was pretty strong in the beginning. We just got to work on maintaining it.” 

The Marauders kept the Mustangs off the score sheet in the second half. Osa Olaye scored a try to cut the deficit to 22-10. The Marauders pushed but it was as close as they would get. 

Wood pointed out the pressure Western gave them in their own end. “We were really able to like strengthen our weak spots and maintain and hold that pressure off,” Wood noted. “And then we were able to get the ball out, and when we had chances, make good plays off of that.” 

Bakri pointed out how they kept their heads up after Western scored. “Straight motivation,” she called it. 

Outscoring the Mustangs in the second half can certainly be chalked up as a positive. There’s optimism as well despite the defeat. 

“Although we didn’t come out with the outcome we wanted to, I think we saw a lot of great things and a lot of great potential from that,” Wood said. “I think we’re going to be riding that into next week.” 

The Marauders will have to replace some key veterans from last year (Photo: Marisa Settimi/McMaster Athletics)

As a new season begins, some familiar faces are gone. Graduating players Katie McLeod, Zoe Spronk, Ila Bett, Vanessa Webb, Vanessa Vogel and others are among them. 

“To be honest, they’re a really big part of the team,” Bakri said. “It’s really about getting everyone back on track and improving.”

Wood called it some big shoes to fill and said they are still working out who’s going to step into where to fill those shoes. “I think we’re handling it well,” she added. “We’re just taking it slow and making sure we have those gaps covered.” 

Perhaps Wood, Bakri and others will step up as the leaders and veterans of the group. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the Marauders rookies did see game action. The Marauders have nine first-year players. 

“They got in and they did some great stuff,” Wood noted. “They showed that’s why they’re here and they’re only going to learn more and improve more.” 

The road doesn’t get any easier as they face the OUA finalists Guelph Gryphons at home on Sept. 8. The Marauders lost to them 86-5 last year. 

Bakri said the team will go a lot harder in practice, especially in terms of aggressiveness and intensity. Wood said they’ll focus on what they’ve practiced. “Trust in the process and the work we’ve put into it and that’ll be good for us,” she added. 

Featured Image: McMaster Athletics

Leave a Reply