SportsVarsityWomen’s rugby team looks to repeat last year’s success

ETC StaffNovember 1, 20195 min

Jayvon Mitchum, Sports Reporter

Head coach Dale Essue knew the Hawks women’s rugby team would need to “build, build and build” for a chance to be back-to-back OCAA champs.

The Hawks compiled a 12-2 record this season. That’s good for first in the Ontario College Athletic Association’s west division.

They recently finished their final tournament at Seneca, with a 2-1 record with victories over Sheridan and Conestoga Colleges. Already, they are preparing for their next challenge.

Hayley O’Donoghue said the team “started out very strong” and continued to fine-tune its skills throughout the year. 

“We’re just getting ready for the competition that we have this week and for the OC’S (OCAA championships) in two weeks,” the back said.

Fellow back Christina Branch also saw improvement as the victories piled up.

Hayley O’Donoghue catches a pass during a game against the Conestoga Condors. The Hawks are the top team in the Western Division and will compete in the OCAA championships in Belleville on Nov. 2. (Humber Athletics)

“I think our hands have gotten a lot better, and also our spacing on the field, so we can move the ball pretty wide,” Branch said.

In her fifth year on the team, she finished second behind teammate Cheyenne De Luca in the OCAA scoring leaders and said Humber’s running and passing were its strengths. 

“We’re the best passing team because we can move the ball sideline to sideline,” she said. “We’ve connected more as a team as the season has gone on, so we’re working more together with the people we’re on the field with, whether it be starters or the second line.” 

Provincials will start on Nov. 2 at Loyalist College in Belleville. Humber’s opponents haven’t been announced yet, but they will play at 11 a.m.

De Luca was optimistic about the team’s chances at the OCAA tournament, hoping the Hawks could “go back to back and win a gold medal again this year.” 

Essue also has high hopes.  “We’ve been able to establish growth from August, all the way into October,” he said. “We’re in a good position going into our last tournament, and we should be great.”