|2011 Seneca Sting Men's Rugby squad proudly sporting their OCAA Silver Medals.|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By: Michael Katz, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
It would be easy for the Seneca Sting Varsity Men’s Rugby team to hang their heads after a devastating loss in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Division I Final to cross-town rival Humber. But that was not the case, and nor should it have been after a truly remarkable season for the Sting.
Seneca began the season with 16 rookies on its roster, and an improvement on last year’s 4-3 record did not appear to be in the cards. However the Sting won their opening match of the year at Trent and didn’t look back, running the table until their 43-13 loss to Humber in Saturday’s Championship Final.
Following the defeat, Head Coach Bob McArthur, Sting bench boss for 14 years, acknowledged the youth and lack of experience on his roster, but he refused to use it as an excuse for his team’s loss.
“Our team is dramatically different than last year, but it happens all the time. People graduate and the team changes and it’s a growth process,” said McArthur.
A growth process it may have been, but this Sting squad gelled quickly, shifting their status from pretender to contender just a few matches into the season. Heading into the OCAA Gold Medal Game, McArthur was very confident in his squad primarily because of their rapid progression as a team.
After their semi-final victory over Mohawk, the longtime head coach was optimistic and proud of his squad.
“The team is playing great together. We’ve played well in every position, and we battled our hardest for one another.”
Of course, the team could not be successful without a few experienced players to lead the charge. For a second straight season, fly half Matt Raguseo was elected as an OCAA Division I All Star, while also earning the honour of OCAA Division I Player of the Year for the first time.
Meanwhile, second-year scrum half Chris Boake, an OCAA All Star last season was awarded Man of the Match in this year’s OCAA Final game.
Boake was very excited heading into the Gold Medal Match.
“We’ve been rebuilding for a while now, and making the OCAA Final is a pretty big deal for Seneca.”
Rags (Matt Raguseo) shared similar sentiments as his teammate.
“The team progressed significantly, particularly in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Unfortunately, when it came time to the Gold Medal matchup, the Sting squad just could not match the more experienced Humber Hawks.
As coach McArthur put it “Humber played really well, they took away all of our time and space.”
It was this same Humber Hawks squad that took down undefeated Mohawk in the OCAA Final last year as well.
Also not to be forgotten was Jarrett Hamilton, the Sting’s other 2011 OCAA All Star who went down with a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the match.
As Boakey (Chris Boake) said “losing Hamilton was a huge blow to our pack which forced us to change our game plan,” an injury that ultimately cost Seneca in the Gold Medal match.
Rookie forward, Jordan Lofthouse, agreed with Boake saying “several players including Hamilton went down early and we couldn’t recover.”
However, that would be as far as the Sting would go in terms of discussing the loss. Despite the defeat, they proudly acknowledged what they accomplished throughout the year and began looking toward next season.
Several veterans will be leaving the team, however 16 players who began the year as rookies gained invaluable experience that most student-athletes may never get the chance to in their entire OCAA careers. This will certainly come to benefit a hungry Seneca team in 2012-2013, which will be determined to settle for nothing less than a gold medal next year.
Lofthouse is ready to step up into his new role and can’t wait to get next season started.
“A lot of the veterans are leaving, meaning I’ll become a leader for the forwards and my goal will be to make sure everyone is intense and ready to play.”
Chris Boake believes the team will be “a lot more prepared and confident on the field next year,” after experiencing this Gold Medal Game loss. He also anticipates that the team will be back in the playoffs to contend for a gold medal next season.
Bob McArthur made sure his team knew how proud he was of them and how excited he will be going into next season. He spoke with the club in their final season scrum after the game and made sure his team recognized what they accomplished this season. He thanked them for the season – and for the fact that they competed all year.
One thing is certain heading into next season; with Rags, Boakey, Lofthouse and a handful of determined sophomores on the roster, this team will be one to watch in 2012.