A week after the CIS rugby national championship tournament, winning silver is just as sweet as it ever was.
“I’m very proud of the result we had at nationals,” said Emily Ricketts, a fourth-year centre. “[Coming second] is still a little fresh but we had a great result. The game was close, we fought back-and forth.”
For the second time in school history, McMaster sits at second in the country. This time though, it is a little different. In 1998, Mac won silver hosting the inaugural tournament and the pool of talent was considerably smaller. That is not to diminish the accomplishments of the team from nearly two decades ago, but the road to a CIS podium finish is significantly more difficult than it once was. And the Marauders would not medal at nationals again until 2011. But the program is highly unlikely to suffer a similar drought.
“This is a great experience to build off of. We had four girls on our team who went to nationals in 2011, so we did not have a lot of players who had experienced that before – that pressure, that physical and mental stress,” said Ricketts.
Leading the program to the CIS championship game was head coach Shaun Allen. In his first year as head coach
of the program, Allen praised past coaches and athletes for helping set a foundation to make a run at the national tournament. The previous coach, Cam Mitchell, even Skyped Allen during the national tournament and watched the streams from his home in New Zealand.
Mitchell was just one member of the McMaster community who embraced the championship run. Both Allen and Ricketts said that support did not go unnoticed.
“There was really good support throughout the tournament and the weekend. The department and the other programs at the school did a great job supporting us and it felt like the McMaster family was behind us,” said Allen.
“It was great, it was really exciting. Women’s sports in gen- eral don’t get a lot of exposure, but this year, we had so much support,” said Ricketts.
Going forward, the team can return the majority of their roster. There are no fifth-year athletes and only two fourth years, per Marauders.ca. Ricketts also said that there is already a lot of buy-in for another championship run next year, and the squad is looking to get back into training.
In an athletic department teeming with programs capable of making championship runs, the Marauders women’s rugby program is the closest thing to a sure bet.
With a hungry group coming back next year, the hallway of DBAC could have a 2015 CIS championship banner to hang beside their 2014 provincial championship.