By: Meg O’Connell
It was a yellow card and 17 points that stopped the Algonquin Thunder men’s rugby team from bringing home bronze on the road against the Seneca Sting.
“Everyone came into the game banged up,” said Jeremy Nesbitt who is one of the team captains. “But we fought hard to the end. We played with pride even though we were down.”
“We had an opportunity to win the match at one point,” said head coach Geoff Tomlinson. “Then we were given the yellow card 10 minutes into the second half and they managed to score 17 points on us with a man down and that was the game.
“It’s tackling,” said Tomlinson. “Our style of play and our game plan works, it just comes down to that. We missed too many tackles and that really dictated the outcome.”
Coming out a little slow in the beginning, the Thunder slowly began to hit their groove. By the middle of the first half was when the Thunder were really on their game and worked hard as a team, putting pressure on Seneca with the score at 12-10. Thunder forwards matched up well and backs played great until things took a turn a few moments later, and things didn’t go their way.
“I think we came out a little sluggish at the beginning but by the end of the second half we had them by the throat,” said Cale Meesters who was captain for the match. “When punches started being thrown that’s when we lost composure. We didn’t have the big game experience that Seneca had. This is only the second year for this program and we feature a lot of young players.”
The Thunder scored two tries in the first half, scored by Dan Burley. There were no kicks made and the final score was 39-10 for the Sting.
“[The] game was definitely a disappointing way to finish the season,” said Burley. “The score didn’t reflect how good of a team we are. We lost our composure a bit out there and I think it made us lose focus. Overall during the season we showed how good we can be and I think everyone still thinks we belong in that final game [against] Humber playing for the championship.”
As for next season, the Thunder are expecting to see most players return and are set to focus on tackling and game play.
“In the end it was a huge step up this season [going] from division two to this all-encompassing league,” said Meesters. “The boys responded well to speed and size and though we were probably the smallest team in the league it didn’t stop us from laying the hammer down during games. In the end it was a great season and although we didn’t win gold, [at least we partied like we did].”