Aca­dia hosts Women’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship this week­end

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS -

One year af­ter their first-ever na­tional ti­tle, the Ot­tawa GeeGees are tour­na­ment favourites head­ing into the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship af­ter hold­ing the pole po­si­tion in the Top 10 for the en­tire sea­son.

The 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship, hosted for the first time by Aca­dia Univer­sity, kicks off on Thurs­day at Ray­mond Field and con­cludes next Sun­day with the gold-medal fi­nal at 4:30 p.m. ET. Live-stream­ing is avail­able on USPORTS.LIVE.

The Aca­dia Ax­e­women had an au­to­matic berth to the cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment, leav­ing the sea­son’s fo­cus on a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship that has al­luded them since the 2015 sea­son – the only time a team other than StFX had cap­tured the ti­tle.

With the re­turn of sev­eral key vet­er­ans from the 2015 AUS cham­pi­onship team along with se­niors from a strong 2017 squad, the Ax­e­women went 4-2 on the sea­son – sweep­ing a pair of matchups against both Saint Mary’s and UPEI, while drop­ping both matchups against the ri­val XWomen – in­clud­ing the reg­u­lar sea- son fi­nale. A missed con­ver­sion on the last play of the game gave the XWomen a 22-20 win and first place in the AUS stand­ings.

De­fend­ing a na­tional ti­tle can be a daunt­ing task, how­ever, the 2018 Ot­tawa Gee-Gees women’s rugby team is un­both­ered by lofty ex­pec­ta­tions. Pow­er­ing through their ex­hi­bi­tion and reg­u­lar sea­son sched­ule, the Gar­net and Grey have racked up wins against na­tion­ally-ranked Laval, Car­leton, and StFX, en route to a fifth- con­sec­u­tive un­de­feated RSEQ reg­u­lar sea­son.

The StFX X-Women are the de­fend­ing AUS cham­pi­ons and have cap­tured the con­fer­ence ban­ner 19 out of the past 20 years. They have five na­tional ti­tles to their claim, win­ning in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, while fin­ish­ing as bronze medal­ists last sea­son.

The Cal­gary Di­nos make their third straight ap­pear­ance at the U SPORTS na­tional cham­pi­onship, look­ing for the first ban­ner in the 10-year-old pro­gram’s his­tory.

The Guelph Gryphons added an­other chap­ter to the pro­gram’s sto­ried his­tory with a 39-14 win over the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA Cham­pi­onship on Oct. 20. That vic­tory com­pleted a three-peat, which was also marked the eighth pro­vin­cial ban­ner in the past 11 years, and 16th over­all in the quar­ter cen­tury of OUA women’s rugby.

The Vic­to­ria Vikes women’s rugby team wrapped up their Canada West sea­son as the con­fer­ence sil­ver medal­lists for the third-straight year. The Vikes have not hoisted the con­fer­ence ban­ner since head coach Brit­tany Wa­ters’ in­au­gu­ral year in 2015 but are set to re­turn to the na­tional cham­pi­onships for their fourth ap­pear­ance in pro­gram his­tory.

For, Laval Rouge et Or, this is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance at the U SPORTS Cham­pi­onship for the Rouge et Or, who won the sil­ver medal in 2017, the best re­sult in the pro­gram’s his­tory.

The Queen’s Gaels are com­ing off a 2017 U SPORTS cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance and OUA sil­ver medal and had their sights set on the con­fer­ence and na­tional ti­tles once again.

PETER OLESKEVICH

The Aca­dia rugby team is ready to par­tic­i­pate in U Sports Rugby Cham­pi­onship ac­tion this week­end.

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