The Brock Badgers men’s rugby team captured the OUA bronze medal on Saturday at Alumni Field.
“This is a tremendous step for the program. We have qualified for the national championship for the first time and the first time you do anything like that, it’s a great accomplishment,” said Badgers’ head coach Phil Sullivan.
The Badgers finished in the top three after placing second to last last season.
The team owned a 1-7 record last year. They improved to 3-3 this year, good for fifth in the regular season and qualifying for the playoffs.
“I think our season says a lot about the athletes on this team,” said Sullivan. “We had some good recruits and transfers, but the bulk of the team were here last year and learned from the experience and committed themselves to change. And it showed.”
One of the biggest reasons for Brock’s new-found success was the return of fly-half Steve Commerford, who missed the 2018-19 season with a broken leg. Commerford was named Brock’s Athlete of the Week twice this season and was part of a Badger team that gave up 369 less points than a year ago.
In the playoffs, the Badgers defeated the Waterloo Warriors 29-12 in the quarterfinals and lost to the Queen’s Gaels — the eventual OUA champions — (their seventh in the past eight years) in the semifinals, 60-12. The Golden Gaels steamrolled through the regular season before beating the Guelph Gryphons 27-18 in the finals.
Brock won the bronze medal match against the Trent Excalibur, 29-24. Trent lead 17-15 at halftime, however the Badgers rallied in the second half to take the game.
“This was really a team effort, both offensively and defensively. But Zach Zorbas scored three tries and Mitch Santilli scored two. So they were clearly key performers,” said Sullivan.
This is Brock’s first OUA medal in men’s rugby since 2014, when they won bronze against the McMaster Marauders. The Badgers have one gold medal to their name, back in 2007.
The Badgers will participate in the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship from November 20-24, hosted by Concordia University in Montreal.