January 17, 2021

SDRugby1BY SCOTT DIETRICH

The Conestoga Condors have earned two playoff appearances, thanks to two teams winning games by a landslide two hours apart.
On Oct. 20, Conestoga’s men’s and women’s rugby teams won their final regular season games versus Mohawk College at Rogers Field in Riverside Park in Cambridge. The wins sent the teams into the first round of OCAA playoffs.
The women played first and beat Mohawk soundly by a final score of 58-12. Outstanding efforts came from Amy Simmonds and Megan Copeland Dinan who each scored two tries in the game.
Shortly after the men’s team took the field and dismantled Mohawk 93-3. Fourteen different players scored for the men’s squad, including Brandon Innis who scored two tries.
Although beating Mohawk, which had the worst record in rugby on the men’s and women’s side, may seem like two easy victories, it should be considered in the context of the whole season.
What made the respective wins more special was the fact that they both had the exact same path to the playoffs. Each team lost its first three games of the season, only to come back and run the table winning their final three games. Winning on the same day two hours apart added a magical element to the playoff-securing wins.
Women’s head coach Sara Escobar said her team bonded over the adversity that started the season, and when they became closer as a team, the wins were not far behind.
“They worked really hard in getting to know each other,” Escobar said, “It was just a big old rugby family by the end of our third game. Once we did that the wins started coming.”
Escobar also thinks that the schedule they drew for this season was part of the reason for their early season struggles. “We played the first-seeded team (Humber College) twice in the first three games. We knew both those games were going to be really tough.”
The men also played Humber twice in their first three games.
Men’s head coach Kyle O’Neal said it was important that his team forgot about those loses at the start of the season, and try and forge a new season out of the final three games.
“I think any time when you have a rough start it’s good to have a short memory about it,” O’Neal said. “After we went 0-3 we had a new plan. We forgot about those three games, there was nothing good to bring out of it, and we start a new season, a three-game season and our plan was to go undefeated.”
There are still other schools that have games yet to play, giving the Condors time to rest before they begin the playoffs. Both coaches said they will be giving their players a few days’ off, before they lace up their rugby boots and head back to the field for practice, to get ready for the challenge of the playoffs, which begin this week.
The playoff schedule will be released today at www.ocaa.com.