QUEBEC - The Laval Rouge et Or picked up a tight 10-8 victory over the Queen's Gaels on Friday night in the second semifinal of the 2023 U SPORTS Women's Rugby Championship, to the delight of the 1,212 fans at the Stade TELUS-Université Laval in Quebec City. Laval heads to the national championship game for the second consecutive year, and their third time in four years. The Rouge et Or will try to defend their Canadian title in front of their own fans on Sunday afternoon.
From the start of the game, there was a palpable tension in the air, as the rivalry between the two sides has developed over the last few years, as Laval and Queen's have locked horns in each of the past four U SPORTS championships. The Rouge et Or have taken three of those games, including Friday night.
The hosts threatened to score at the start of the game, spurred on by the crowd's entery. Laval took advantage of a Queen's penalty in the 18th minute, as Audrey Champagne made no mistake and put Laval up 3-0.
Queen's put on the pressure after the opening score. Laval often found themselves deep in their own zone, but indiscipline and technical erors by the Gaels stopped them from hitting the scoreboard. The Rouge et Or retook the moment and had a chance to double their lead at the very end of the first half, but a penalty kick by Champagne hit the uprights.
Laval scored the game's first try shortly after the return from halftime. With Laval knocking on the doors of the goal area, Maude Chabot dove forward and flattened the ball on the ground. After Champagne's convert, it was now 10-0. Just four minutes later, Lizzie Gibson – the 2022 U SPORTS player of the year – gave home to the OUA champions as she hit a very long penalty goal from almost 40 metres out. Then, Siobhan Sheerin scored a try in the 63rd minute, but the convert was missed. The Rouge et Or held on to the ball in the late stages to safeguard their victory and their spot in the gold medal game.
Queen's will now head to the bronze medal game on Sunday at 1 p.m., as they will take on Guelph in a rematch of the OUA final. Laval has a date with the Victoria Vikes in Sunday's gold medal game. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and the game can be viewed on all CBC Sports digital platforms.
Nike Team players of the game
- Laval – #9 Corinne Fréchette
- Queen's – #5 Izzy Page
Laval 10 – Queen's 8
- LAV - Penalty Audrey Champagne – 18th (3-0)
- LAV - Try Maude Chabot – 39th (conversion Audrey Champagne) (10-0)
- QUE - Penalty Lizzie Gibson – 43th (10-3)
- QUE – Try Siobhan Sheerin – 63th (10-8)