The Brock Men’s Rugby team completed their regular season schedule with a heartbreaking loss against the Western Mustangs on October 22. Going into the game, the Badgers were tied with Trent for the final playoff position in the OUA division standings. However, because Trent had already defeated Brock in the regular season, if the two teams finished with the same record, Trent would take the final playoff spot. Therefore, the Badgers had to receive at least one point from their matchup against the Mustangs in order to move on to the postseason. Teams get points for winning but they can also earn bonus points if they lose. If the Badgers scored four or more tries or lost to the Mustangs by a margin of seven points or less they would have received the bonus point necessary to move on for a playoff berth. Since 2014 Brock has come away with an 0-1-1 record against the Western Mustangs, being outscored by a margin of 20 points.
It was a bitingly cold day that felt even colder with the windchill factor. There was heavy tension for the Badgers to perform the way they needed to in order to secure their points just before the opening kick off. The game started off as an even showing of physicality, speed and tactics. It seemed that defence would be the deciding factor for the competition. Both teams took the ball into contact forcefully and the subsequent rucks were contested with brutal exertion. The intensity caused Brock’s 8 man, Bill Watters to tangle with a Western player after a ruck was finished and both players received yellow cards and were sidelined for 10 minutes. Despite the penalty trouble, Brock seemed firmly in control for the majority of the first half working mainly on offense and recycling the ball well after each phase. Brock had many chances to strike and open up the scoring with the first try of the game. The Badgers were making an impressive break from the Mustang’s defense and were rushing towards the try line. However, the Mustangs quickly stole a dropped ball and ran the remainder of the field putting the first points on the board. The seamless transition caught the Badger defense entirely off guard and out of position as the Mustangs converted their kick for a 7-0 lead 20 minutes into the game.
Two minutes later, the Badgers would suffer another setback as they cleanly won a line out and malled the ball forwards a few meters. Swinging the ball out, the backs fumbled and were unsuccessful in pouncing on the loose ball. The Mustangs again were able to retrieve the ball and use another quick transition to score. Things began to turn around for the Badgers with 6 minutes left in the first half when Western’s 8 man received another yellow card ejecting him from the game and forcing the Mustangs to play a man down for the remainder of the competition. Just before the end of the half Brock pushed their way into the Mustangs defensive zone and drew a scrum with their put in. The Badgers handedly won the scrum as they ran an 8 man pickup. The Mustangs defense was caught off guard by the quick decision and scrum half Dylan Meredith followed the play. That support allowed Watters to give Meredith a little dish pass who finished an impressive run by beating a defender to score a try. Nathan Boeyenga would convert the kick and leave his team with a 7-12 deficit just as the first half came to a close, the Badgers feeling the momentum on their side.
As the second half began, the Badgers found themselves playing more defense than they would have wanted. They played red zone defense for approximately five full minutes. Failing to steal or clear the ball away from their zone gave the Mustangs the opportunity to wear down the defense and grind their way in for a try putting the score at 19-7. A few minutes later, the Mustangs were able to coordinate some very fancy passing coupled with an impressive inside cut to avoid going out of bounds to drive in another try propelling their lead to 24-7.
Brock would go on to play a solid end to the second half but only extended their gap by missing passes and fumbling the ball away to the Mustangs. The final score was 38-7 which ensured the end to the season for the team. The Brock Men’s rugby team had an eventful season with some sensational plays and big wins.