BURLINGTON, Ont. - The rugby season is winding down in OUA, as the finals have been set for the 2015 OUA Men's Rugby Championship, with the Queen's Gaels heading down to Guelph, Ont. to take on the Gryphons. As the season comes to an exciting climax, OUA is proud to announce the 2015 men's rugby major awards and all-stars.
The Guelph Gryphons were a dominant team in OUA this year, finishing with a record of 7-1 atop the standings. Their success this season was indicated in their all-star selections, leading the league with six players taking home honours. Gryphons head coach Darrell Devine has been awarded Coach of the Year in just his third year at the helm in Guelph.
In a rematch of last year's OUA final, Guelph knocked off defending champs Queen's in their regular season opener by a score of 35-28, a win that kept the Gryphs ahead of the Gaels in the standings. Two-time all-star hooker Eric Howard (Kanata, Ont.) led Guelph in that game, adding a crucial try after a terrific 30-metre run to pay dirt to put the Gryphs ahead by 15 going into the half. The Gryphs were led by a stout defence all year, which allowed a league-low 85 points against.
On the other side of the ball fourth-year fullback Jonathan West (Scarborough, Ont.) led Guelph in scoring, collecting 68 points this season, good for third best in OUA. West was made an all-star for his efforts, along with 8th man Jeremy Wright (Fenelon Falls, Ont.), scrum half Bryon Boville (Barrie, Ont.), centre Scott Simmonds (Uxbridge, Ont.), and prop Lucas Gillham (Uxbridge, Ont).
The Queen's Gaels had the second most all-star nominations finishing the year with five all-stars, but have a major award winner in their lineup, as 2013 Rookie of the Year No. 8 Lucas Rumball (Toronto, Ont.) has been named MVP after another phenomenal campaign.
In addition to being named MVP, Rumball, a third-year physical and health education student-athlete, rushed for nine tries on his way to a second-straight all-star nomination. Lucas follows in the footsteps of his older brother Jacob who was named OUA MVP last season.
The Gaels finished the season in second place with an identical 7-1 record to the Gryphs, but lost out on first place because of their season opening loss to Guelph. The Gaels are still kings of OUA rugby at the moment though, having taken home three straight OUA championships, and will be looking to add to their dynasty with a fourth this year.
Queen's advanced past a strong Western squad in the semifinals this past weekend, thanks in part to all-star Lock Matt Beukeboom's (Bobcaygeon, Ont) second half try which pushed the Gaels out of reach of the Mustangs. Beukeboom, an arts & science major from Bobcaygeon, ON, also brings home Rookie of the Year honours for his fantastic freshman campaign.
Despite losing most of their all-stars from a year ago, Queen's still has an incredibly talented squad, led by new all-stars prop Brendan Blaikie (North Vancouver, B.C.), scrum half Mark Charette (Ottawa, Ont.), and centre Jeff MacDonald (Toronto, Ont.). MacDonald, a physical and health education student-athlete, finished fourth on the Gaels in scoring with five tries for 25 poiints.
Like Guelph and Queen's, Western turned in another dominant season and are the third team in the league to finish with a record of 7-1. For their efforts, the Mustangs lineup also features five all-stars including the conference's leading scorer fullback Mark Denton (Aurora, Ont.). The fourth-year social science major collected 79 points this season, including three tries, 26 conversions, and four penalty goals.
Western was a force to be reckoned with in their quarter-final matchup against Laurier this year, taking home a 67-26 win on the back of all-star centre Cole Sopik (Aurora, ON), who added three tries in the win, and fly half Mike Turnbull (Oakville, Ont.), who crossed the try line twice of this own. Turnbull has been a premier player throughout his career, collecting his third-straight all-star bid this year.
Wing Glen Bullock (Toronto, Ont.), a third-year business student-athlete, also gained an all-star spot this year, after collecting a league high nine tries in eight games for Western. Rounding out the all-star nominations for the Mustangs is second-year flanker Peter Milazzo (Toronto, Ont.), who earns his spot on the OUA team for the second straight season.
The McMaster Marauders didn't make it to the finals this year after a tough semifinal loss to Guelph 47-15, but battled through a difficult conference schedule all season long to make it as far as they did, finishing with a 5-3 record. The fourth place Marauders only lost to the top three previously mentioned teams, while knocking off the rest of the league in a firm fashion.
Lock Aaron Mabbott (Oakville, Ont) and 8th man Mitch Salisbury (Stoney Creek, Ont.) both received their second all-star nominations this year, and are joined by fly-half Mitch Richardson (Stoney Creek, Ont.) and inside centre Jamie Leveridge (Oakville, Ont.). Leveridge collected 31 points this year on two tries, six converts, and three penalty goals.
Off the field, fourth-year kinesiology student-athlete Ethan Sanders (Rockcliffe, Ont.) has been performing like an all-star, receiving the Community Service Award for his efforts.
Sanders represents the Marauders men's rugby teams on McMaster Athlete's Care, and has organized several community outreach initiatives around Hamilton, including visits to McMaster Children's Hospital. Sanders is also an honour-roll student in his program, and will be applying for medical school next year. On top of all of this, Sanders is a regular starter for the Marauders and a major contributor on the pitch.
The team from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) also has a couple all-stars in the ranks as the Paladins will be represented by three-time all-star fullback Matt Courtney (Brockville, Ont.), two-time all-star 2nd row Alex Markovic (Ottawa, Ont.), and first timer selections hooker Max Williams (Windsor, Ont.), and prop Cole Milne (Victoria, B.C.). Courtney finished fourth in OUA in scoring, contributing 57 points on six tries, 12 converts, and one penalty goal.
The Laurier Golden Hawks roster features three all-stars. 8th man Andrew Thomson (Pickering, Ont.) has been selected to the team for a third straight season, while hooker Andrew Quattrin (Holland Landing, Ont.) picks up his second. Thomson led the Golden Hawks in scoring this year, punching in five tries. Lock Mitch Shiels (Lucknow, Ont.), a fourth-year psychology student-athlete, earned his first all-star spot this year.
Brock also picked up a few all-star spots, with prop Joshua Gomer (Collingwood, Ont.), 8th man Jeremy Brownridge (Sunderland, Ont.) and wing Blake Sanderson (Pickering, Ont.) representing the Badgers on the all-star team.
Rounding out the all-star team is Waterloo Warriors back Connor Bevington (Oakville, Ont.) and centre Jason Park (Mississauga, Ont.); and Toronto Varsity Blues Paul Ciulini (Vaughan, Ont.) and Robert Welch (Vancouver, B.C.).
MEN'S RUGBY MAJOR AWARDS
Most Valuable Player – Lucas Rumball – Queen's Gaels
Rookie of the Year – Matt Beukeboom – Queen's Gaels
Coach of the Year – Darrell Devine – Guelph Gryphons
Community Service Award - Ethan Sanders – McMaster Marauders
MEN'S RUGBY ALL-STARS
Eric Howard – Guelph Gryphons – Hooker
Jeremy Wright – Guelph Gryphons – 8th Man
Jonathan West – Guelph Gryphons – Fullback
Byron Boville – Guelph Gryphons – Scrum Half
Scott Simmonds – Guelph Gryphons – Centre
Lucas Gillham – Guelph Gryphons – Prop
Brendan Blaikie – Queen's Gaels – Prop
Matt Beukeboom – Queen's Gaels – Lock
Lucas Rumball – Queen's Gaels – 8th Man
Mark Charette – Queen's Gaels – Scrum Half
Jeff MacDonald –Queen's Gaels – Centre
Mike Turnbull – Western Mustangs – Fly Half
Mark Denton – Western Mustangs – Fullback
Glen Bullock – Western Mustangs – Wing
Cole Sopik – Western Mustangs – Centre
Peter Milazzo – Western Mustangs – Flanker
Aaron Mabbott – McMaster Marauders – Lock
Mitch Salisbury – McMaster Marauders – 8th Man
Mitch Richardson – McMaster Marauders – Fly-Half
Jamie Leveridge – McMaster Marauders – Inside Centre
Matt Courtney – RMC Paladins – Fullback
Alex Markovic – RMC Paladins – 2nd Row
Max Williams – RMC Paladins – Hooker
Cole Milne – RMC Paladins – Prop
Andrew Quattrin – Laurier Golden Hawks – Hooker
Andrew Thomson – Laurier Golden Hawks – 8th man
Mitchell Shiels– Laurier Golden Hawks – Lock
Joshua Gomer – Brock Badgers – Prop
Jeremy Brownridge – Brock Badgers – 8-Man
Blake Sanderson – Brock Badgers – Wing
Connor Bevington – Waterloo Warriors – Back
Jason Park – Waterloo Warriors – Centre
Paul Ciulini – Toronto Varsity Blues
Robert Welch – Toronto Varsity Blues