‘Winless’ Marauders take Canada rugby crown


In a surprising example of getting hot at the right time, the McMaster women’s rugby team captured the Canadian championship at the University Rugby Sevens tournament played this weekend in Langford, B.C. The Marauders defeated Lethbridge in the championship final 24-7 on Sunday afternoon (March 9) at Westhills Stadium.

The McMaster women's rugby team, led by Cindy Nelles, celebrate the University 7s championship.  (Photo: Rugby Canada)

The McMaster women’s rugby team, led by Cindy Nelles, celebrate the University 7s championship. (Photo: Rugby Canada)

McMaster opened the tournament by dropping its first two games in pool play on Friday, losing 27-17 to UBC and 17-15 to Lethbridge. In its final pool play match on Saturday, McMaster was edged 15-14 by the Guelph Gryphons. Guelph entered the tournament as the two-time defending university champions in Rugby Sevens, and one of the favourites.

Cindy Nelles was named outstanding player of the tournament. (Photo: McMaster Athleics)

Cindy Nelles was named outstanding player of the tournament. (Photo: McMaster Athleics)

Despite going winless in pool play the Marauders advanced into the knockout phase and pulled off the shocker of the tournament by beating Guelph 12-10 in their quarter-final game. McMaster tries came from Rina Charalampis and Cindy Nelles, and a conversion by Stephanie Black proved to be the difference.

McMaster next dominated Alberta 35-0 in the semi-finals, to move into the Sunday championship game against Lethbridge, which had knocked off Western and Victoria to advance to the final.

Facing an opponent that had beaten them in pool play, the Marauders got tries from Black, Kailyn Jones, Emily Ricketts, and Saffara Whitley-Hoffelner. Black added two conversions and Mac rode its playoff momentum to its first national Rugby Sevens title, while keeping the title in Ontario.

McMaster All-Canadian Nelles, who scored four tries in three games, was named the Outstanding Player of the Tournament.