First time co-champions declared in OCAA women’s rugby

by | Dec 6, 2012 | Sports

The Humber Hawks’ head coach Brett McCully is proud of his team’s win on Nov. 17.  COURTESY JESS RAYMOND

By Sasha Ramnarine

The Ontario Colleges Athletic Association championship game between the Humber Hawks and Algonquin Thunder marked the first time co-champions were declared in women’s college rugby.

The Nov. 17 game at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Ottawa ended in an 8-8 tie, despite each team scoring a try and penalty kick during regulation.

According to league rules, both teams should have played one 10-minute overtime.

But the referees told both teams to play two 10-minute overtime periods, which is the rule followed by teams in the Ontario University Athletics association.

LISTEN: Executive director of the OCAA Blair Webster discusses the confusion over rules

“It’s an oversight in a number of ways – on the OCAA not ensuring that the official knew the proper rules; not having one of our administrators at the event to ensure the official knew the rules, which we do for all our other championships;” said executive director of the OCAA, Blair Webster.

“And secondarily, it’s an oversight in terms of our member institutions, not ensuring that our coaches know the rules.”

Webster told Humber News Thursday, “It’s not the referees fault.”

Algonquin’s athletic director Ron Port was not unhappy with sharing the championship. “After the first overtime period I thought the game was over,” he conceded. But when game officials looked for a second overtime, and the “coaches shook hands and wished each other the best of luck, “he was ready to accept that decision.

For Humber, which was ahead by a try at the end of the OCAA–mandated overtime, the ruling meant putting the championship back in jeopardy.  At the end of the second overtime, Algonquin had drawn even, prompting the referees to call a sudden-death 10-minute overtime, which opened the door for the Thunder’s Courtney Mastine to kick the winning penalty.

Or so the Thunder thought.

A post-game protest by the losers, who were down 16-13, was initially denied, only to be overruled by the OCAA Monday.  Left with a Solomon-like decision, the OCAA rolled the final score back to the tied score at the end of regulation time.

“There’s blame to go on everybody, “ the OCAA’s Webster said in a telephone interview. “Both schools, the OCAA and . . . the executive,  felt that the best thing, because of all the administrative oversights on all parties, was to keep the score 8-8.”

Humber’s women’s rugby head coach Brett McCully told Humber News Thursday he is “glad the girls got the recognition they did, because they are champions.

LISTEN: Humber’s head coach Brett McCully is proud of his team

“We did really well in the West Division, went undefeated and only had a few points scored against us.”

Regarding the 8-8 tie, McCully said it was “unbelievable after 80 minutes of rugby.”

LISTEN: Humber’s head coach Brett McCully discusses rules

Under OCAA rules, the teams could have chosen to replay the past 10 minutes of the game, Webster said. “But in terms of the number of days that elapsed from when the game was played; the fact that both of the teams wouldn’t have been practicing, (and) the fact that we’re now into December . . . .”

“If you’re playing rugby on a frozen field, you have the opportunity for more injuries.”

Cost was also a factor, since Humber would have had to travel to Ottawa to play just 10 minutes of overtime.

“Logistically, that was not a viable option,” the OCAA executive director said.

LISTEN: Executive director of the OCAA, Blair Webster discusses pre-game protocols to prevent future disputes

But being a co-champion does not necessarily mean a team’s record is blemished.

“If Humber wants to say that they’re unbeaten, they can say they’re unbeaten. We don’t keep track of that,” said Webster.