Rookie men’s rugby take third at OCAA after four-year hiatus

by | Nov 20, 2019 | Sports, Varsity

Remi Drouin, Sports Reporter

A four-year hiatus did little to stop the Humber Hawks men’s rugby team.

The team brought home the OCAA bronze medal by defeating the Seneca Sting 33-22 on Nov. 9 at the Sheppard’s Bush Soccer Fields in Aurora, maintaining the legacy of medalling it had before the 2015 suspension for a hazing incident.

Hawks first-year back Juan Manago running with the ball past Seneca Sting defenders during the OCAA bronze medal game at Sheppard’s Bush Soccer Fields in Aurora on Nov. 9. (Remi Drouin)

The Hawks found themselves down 17-12 at halftime after a slow and frustrating 40 minutes to lead off the game.

It wasn’t until head coach Fabian Rayne had the opportunity to talk to his players at the break which appears to have shifted the momentum and the outcome of the game.

“Our coaches always do a great job at hyping us up and keeping us focused,” first-year lock Noah Strong said.

That hype translated into a try and conversion for Humber during the first two minutes of the second half.

The Hawks would add a pair of tries with hook Zack Shurtleff, including a solo run downfield that vaulted Humber in front.

When the final whistle was blown, Humber had come back to win the game and the celebration was on.

“I know it’s not the game we wanted, but we came out on top, we worked our tails off and we’re going to enjoy the win tonight,” OCAA all-star and prop Christopher Dominey said. 

“With all the hard work we’ve been putting in all season, it’s nice to say we won something.”

Rayne was happy with the pushback he saw from his players in the final 40 minutes of the season.

“I thought they played really hard during the second half, the guys that came in off the bench did well, we had to be more physical and we did that,” he said.

“We’re a new group, we had a lot of guys that are new to the sport so it’s great to see them get a win and get that bronze medal,” Rayne said.

Shurtleff was named player of the game for scoring 16 points, while wing Richard Sheffield, hook Scott Kisiel and Dominey were named to the OCAA All-Stars.

Before the team was shut down due to the 2015 hazing, Humber had won five straight OCAA titles touting a perfect 30-0 league and playoff record.

The bronze gives the team something to build on going into next season.

“There’s lots to be proud of, we made a lot of improvements throughout the year,” assistant coach Andre Rose-Green said. 

“But moving forward, we need a strong commitment from the guys, it’s important they know that ultimately, they’ll get what they put into it.”

Strong said he has a positive outlook following his team’s return season and knows Humber can only go up from here.

“I think next season will be a lot better for us, you know, sometimes you have to lose before you achieve your ultimate goal,” he said.