All three MIRFC men’s team participated in the FRQ provincial championships for an unprecedented 4th year in a row. Before we get to the games, we would like to congratulate all teams that took part in this great event and the FRQ for putting on a great show. Many volunteers, players, refs and fans had a part in making this day successful. The MIRFC were proud to host the finals and hope that everybody had an enjoyable day. Particular thanks should go to our very own finals crew – Bob Meunier, Sheena, Vicky, Tim and Jimmy Heaslip. Thank you!
As far as the rugby goes, St Julie hosted 9 finals on the day. In div 3, Kingston won convincingly 60-7 over the Exiles and should be moving up to a higher division. In div 2, the Sherbrooke reserves beat the TMR reserves 29-3, with the TMR firsts taking out their revenge on the Ottawa Beavers 25-0 (Side Note: I grew up playing rugby in Ottawa, and one of the most scarring episodes of my life came when I was asked to go and get something in the Beavers locker room (I was being set up for a prank) and when I entered, I saw something that no 16 year old — let alone any human being – should ever see. That’s my memory of the Beavers, but I digress.) In division 1, the Ottawa Irish reserves beat the Parc O reserves and continued their winning ways by taking the division 1 title over the Bytown Blues 48-20. I watched some of this game and was impressed by the skill on both sides.
In terms of your beloved Montreal Irish, the green machine was facing perennial foes One Club, bro! ® and their awesome singlets (Conor, you have the green light to get on MIRFC singlets for next year) three times over. In division 4, the MIRFC thirds engaged in an epic battle, only fitting for the two top clubs in the division. The MIRFC thirds had more experience in the backs, but struggled to keep up with the athleticism of their rivals. The game was tight and well fought but it is of my opinion there was poor refereeing . The ref did us no favours, sending our best player on the day into the sin bin for a very legal tackle and generally penalizing hard tackles. This isn’t soccer. Anyway, I digress, again. As it had last year, the game went to a thrilling overtime, and as it did last year, the overtime ended with One Club, bro! ® hosting the cup. The game of numbers first reared its ugly head as the MIRFC warriors managed to play the 100 minutes with a few subs and One Club, bro! ® had a bench of no less than 17 fresh subs. On a final note of this game, I was told that this was perhaps Bob Meunier’s final game. We all hope Bob’s playing career isn’t over, but if it is, he gets huge kudos for an amazing career. He and Jean Bisson – who also retired too early, if you ask me – have been tremendous ambassadors for our club on and off the field and we hope that they remain involved for years to come.
The Super Ligue Reserve game started off well enough with the MIRFC playing strong defense and scoring an early try off a blocked kick. Unfortunately for our boys, this didn’t last as their opponents began implementing their game plan and controlling the flow of play. I didn’t catch most of the game, but I understand that our boys put up a good fight and will live to fight another day. This year was about giving the young lads a chance to prove themselves in the reserves. They did well and did the club proud. The numbers game was tough on the boys as each of the subs had already played at least 80 minutes in the thirds (about 4 hours prior) whereas the boys from the West Island once again showed their club depth by having only fresh subs.
Down 2-0, the MIRFC firsts knew it was up to them to salvage a win. Having won the league title for the first time in a long time, the boys were eager to take the pitch. And boy did it show – they came out flying. The forward running lines were good, the set piece was working and the backs were making breaks. The boys started to assert themselves and went into the half with a good lead. Back to the game of numbers. One Club, bro ® was able to make several changes to bring in fresh (and very talented) players. The new blood made a difference and the West Islanders started to make some noise and score some points. In the end, the MIRFC conceded a late score that was the difference. We lost by 4 points. It was a tough loss to take.
I would point our that I thought the game was very well reffed by Alex St-Bonet and the rest of the crew. However, I can’t say I was particularly fond of some of the fans of One Club, bro! ®, with a strong contingent of them looking like the front row of a One Direction concert. Cheering your own club is one thing, but angrily yelling at the players who just lost a close game “Three cups, one club” while they are waiting for the other team to shake hands, is another. So is yelling when a player is kicking. Sour grapes for me, I guess.
On the other hand, props should go to the players and members of St Annes RFC. Even for them, three championships in one season is quite the accomplishment. It certainly has opened our eyes into looking at what we, as a club, need to do to emulate that success.
We cannot rest on our laurels knowing there is another club out their always striving to get better. We lost the game of numbers. We must get better, stronger and fitter; we need to get better numbers, send guys to play elite rugby and foster an atmosphere of winning. We have work to do and we need the buy-in from our membership to get there. We need coaches, volunteers, players, money, time – whatever you have, we need it! Please contact us to see how you can help.
Overall, and to close on a good note, it was a good season, with all three teams combining for a 25-1-9 record and the division 4 and premier league regular season titles. The mighty thirds will be back (even mightier), the young 2s will be back (more experienced) and the prems will be back too (Juice Juice Juice). Big thanks to Huw, Josh and Noam who led this ship all year – cheers, gents.
-Photo credits Neal M.