I know, I know, it’s been about a month since the finals and this write-up is dated, to say the least. After a year of match recaps containing tasteless humour and semi-factual match day accounts, I’m hoping you weren’t expecting something timely and/or interesting. I do promise, however, that this year’s finals recap will be more uplifting than last year, for many reasons, not the least of which is that we won. Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at the rest of the day’s results.
The first match of the day saw the Brome Lake Ducks win the Division 3 championship by a score of 14-3 over the St Lambert Locks. By all accounts, it was a good game, played in less than ideal conditions with the wind causing problems for both sides. This was a tough loss for the Locks, who had a very solid season. They’ve also been using St Julie as their home field this year and it has a been a pleasure working with them. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the John Jones Montreal 7s tournament which took place at St Julie the week after finals. It was a wonderful day of rugby and the continuation of a great tournament and a solid relationship between the two clubs.
The Division 2 and Division 2 Reserve matches were both won by Sherbrooke over Kingston with respective scores of 60-10 and 27-20. Congrats to Sherbrooke on the two wins! The Division 1 Reserve game was won convincingly by the Bytown Blues 34-0 over TMR. The Town got their revenge in the Division 1 final against Parc-O winning a thriller by the score of 12-8. Kudos to both TMR and Parc-O who both won their respective semi-finals away in Ottawa to book their ticket to the finals. I’d like to give a shout out to our old rival Parc-O who, as usual, were the last to leave the bar. These guys personify the old saying “win or lose, we booze”. If I had to summarize the relationship between Parc-O and the Irish, I would point to this exchange between one of the long-time players and I:
Parc-O Player: “Congrats on the wins for the Irish today”
Me: “Thanks, man.”
Parc-O Player: “I mean, I think the Irish are all shitheads and I hate you, but congratulations.”
Me: “The feeling is mutual. And thanks.”
This bring us to the Premier League Reserve final. The MIRFC would be playing in the Reserve Final for a 5th year in a row. They would also be playing SABRFC for a 5th year in a row, with the Irish having won only one of the last 4 reserve finals. There was no doubt this was going to be a tough game, but the boys were ready. In the last two years, the Reserves went through quite the transformation – veteran stalwarts retired or moved to 3rds, and the Reserves were taken over by the next generation of MIRFC stars. Young guns like Mercier, Wolfe, Chuck, Duilio and Petrin paired with vets like Marv, Guy, JL, Court, and others to form a new look team that finished first overall in the regular season. The tension was high in this game and fans from both clubs took their now-familiar spots along the pitch to watch the action. MIRFC captain Timmy Y led the boys out and continues to prove his worth in each game he plays. He was joined by super-vet and coach Huw, who took over at 9 to plug a hole left by one our collegiate brethren. At one point, SABRC subbed in one of their own super-vets to play scrum half; if I had to guess, I’d say there was at least 500 games of experience between the two! It was fun to watch. Overall, our MIRFC heroes played a great game – they came out strong and executed their game plan. The game was close – as they always are between the two teams – with the boys making a strong defensive stand at the end to seal a well-earned 17-11 victory. What impressed me the most was how hungry the boys were to win – you could see it in their tackling, in their fight for each loose ball and, ultimately, in the final score. When the final whistle went, it was more than just the reserves who rushed the field – players from the 3rds and the Prems joined in as well for all victories are club victories, first and foremost. I would also confess that from a personal standpoint, I was way more nervous watching the reserves play than for Prems games. I wanted the reserves to win so badly – they had put in the work, from the gym to the field, and these boys deserved it.
The Prems, for their part, knew what they were up against. While an 8-2 regular season record and the regular title were things to be proud of, it was not lost on anybody (expect maybe Juice, who claimed that it was because he wasn’t there) that the only losses came against the Ottawa Indians. The boys were ready and team captain Rob Law seem to boost the morale of the boys when he declared with fierce authority that we were going to win and that he would make damn sure that we did. He was not wrong. The scrum was strong and the front row of Bang, Dan James Murray, Alex and Tim were great and didn’t give an inch. Young stars-in-the-making Kaleb, Edouard and Marc-Antoine proved their worth and more. These guys are legitimate stars and the future of the pack looks strong indeed. Props to the Sherbrooke army that stayed to support Marc, on numerous occasions I could hear chants of “Bourget! Bourget!” echo across the fields as MA laid punishing tackles time after time. The pack was rounded off by the incomparable Juice and PL, two titans whose myths are only equaled by their on-field play. The backs were equally as impressive with two-try scoring Jamie anchoring the ever-dangerous line of Josh, Acker, Clint, Dan, Xav and Delwyn. As offensively gifted as these guys are, it had to be their fearless tackling that was most impressive on the day. The Indians are a very good team that force their opposition’s backs into tackling their bigger forwards on a regular basis. Our boys were up to the challenge! In terms of how the game went, the Irish came out strong and scored an early penalty for a 3-0 lead. The Indians answered back with a driving line-out for a try and a 5-3 lead that lasted most of the first half. The Irish scored in the final minutes of the first half after some brilliant play to take a 10-5 lead into halftime. The Irish scored early in the second half and the two teams traded scores the rest of the way for a final score of 25-15 for the Irish (at least according to the FRQ website, I personally thought it was 25-17). The Irish were rugby Quebec 2014 champions!
The Irish were once again champions, and for the first time, both the Prems and the Reserves won on the same day! Word is Neale Mc-D is considering writing a broom-themed book about this glorious day (note: he has instead opted for a coffee table book called “Your daily Declan – a year in pictures of my naked infant son”. He is still looking for a publisher.), The celebration was fun and hazy and will continue until works starts against next year.
The players would like to thank the finals committee for putting on a great event, all the volunteers (thanks to the 3rds and to the women for your help and support), to the alumni and old boys who came out to support, to our awesome ATs and to everybody who helped make this a great year. Lastly, thanks to our fantastic coaching staff of Ian Baillie and Huw Roberts. The Prems and Reserves finished the year with a combined record of 20-4, finished at the top of their respective divisions in the regular season and won both championships. As
Throughout the year, whenever something happened, good or bad, you could count on somebody saying “next job”; it’s always about what needs to be done next to secure the victory. Our “next job” will be defending our championships. And as we know, this is the hardest job of the them all.