The Marauders have been taking a coach bus wrapped with a graphic of the athletic department’s logo to the various practice venues. Driving the maroon-clad vehicle has drawn profanities and middle fingers wherever they go. If members of the team go anywhere wearing the school colours, they are likely to hear things like “long drive for a f—king loss, ain’t it?”

In the heart of the city, this game is more than just McMaster University against the Universite de Montreal. It’s the city itself against the foreigners from Ontario and the Marauders are feeling the disdain.

The organizing body is not doing any favours, either. At the All-Canadian banquet, a Vanier Cup retrospective video was played. McMaster, who won in 2011 and lost in 1967 and 2012, was not featured in the video. 2012 was the most-watched Vanier Cup game of all time, so it was a curious exclusion. During the announcement of the All-Canadian teams, there were some players from McMaster on the teams that were not announced.

All of these seem like water off a Marauder’s back, though. The team is not getting pushed around or intimidated, a sign of a group that has experience with tense atmospheres like this. Keep in mind; two of McMaster’s road games were the opponents Homecoming, meaning big  — likely intoxicated — crowds. They are not in uncharted territory. That isn’t to say that playing in front of more than 18,500 pro-Montreal fans is the same as a York Homecoming game. Mac will have to battle the atmosphere too, but at least it is an outdoor stadium where noise can escape.

Carabins piling up advantages as organizers sit back

Regardless of what the Marauders will say, they are at a disadvantage. Montreal has skirted typical Vanier Cup protocol. This year, the Vanier Cup is being hosted by the Montreal Alouettes. That’s an important detail. On Friday, the Carabins moved their walkthrough because of snow on the field at Percival Memorial Stadium. Montreal completed their walkthrough indoors on their own campus. McMaster finished their walk through on the Percival’s turf.

Now, if the Carabins were hosting, then moving around makes a little more sense. They are footing the bill so they should get some leeway. But if it’s a neutral side, advantages need to be provided to both sides. The CIS, a regulatory body, has failed. Referring to this week something out of the “Wild, Wild West” would be unfair to cowboys because I’m sure they had some kind of mutual understanding of rules.

Mac’s head coach, Stefan Ptaszek acknowledged this too. Neate Sager from Yahoo’s Eh Game blog has the quotes from an interview earlier this week:

“They’re not reporting to the hotel until Friday. So they’re going to all their classes, doing their regular football routine, on their campus, up until Friday. They’ll probably come around the mountain to get the walkthrough at McGill’s stadium. Then they’ll check into the hotel and play their football game. We’re being asked to travel today and eat hotel food, miss class, do all the things that come with travelling for the better part of 72 hours before we get a football game.”

Montreal should be reporting to the hotel earlier. They should not be dodging practice times and switching up venues. In 2012, McMaster moved their operation to downtown Toronto, despite being 40 minutes from the field. Those are the rules and the department followed them.

And the Carabins should not get much blame. If they are being allowed to get away with this, then full credit to them for trying. The organizers should be the ones shutting it down, but the question becomes “why would they?”

McMaster injury updates:

Chris Pezzetta will not play after injuring his knee in the Mitchell Bowl … Josh Vandeweerd practiced all week and completed walkthrough.

Photo credit: Fraser Caldwell


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