The UNB Ironmen rugby team brought home the Maritime University Championship trophy on Nov. 8 following a hard-fought victory over St. Francis Xavier University (StFX).
“The strength of our bench and being patient in the last 10 minutes of the game were key to the win,” said Paul Wilson, the head coach of the Ironmen. “Being able to bring in players of the same calibre as the starting fifteen has been important throughout the season, and has allowed us to continue to play at a high level.”
UNB defeated StFX 24-20 to capture the Cockburn-Carty Trophy. StFX led the game at halftime by score of 10-5. Brendon White scored for UNB while Alex Vanier scored both times for StFX.
UNB’s Dibaba Ekangyela registered an early score in the second half to tie it up, and converted to tip the scales in their favour. The battle continued throughout the second half where StFX wrestled for two more tries by Sean Carr with 15 minutes left in the game. Unscathed, veterans Pat Grant and Scott Asselstine fought for two more tries, one of which was converted to give the Ironmen a four point lead with four minutes left in the game.
“We had a tough end to the season coming off a three game losing streak going into playoffs, but the boys all came together and played like true Ironmen through playoffs. I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them and their efforts on the field,” said Oliver Parkman, captain of this year’s championship team, after the victory.
Discipline and motivation were what granted the Ironmen success. With last year’s 21-17 upset against Dalhousie and the year before against Acadia, the Ironmen held their heads up high as they came home victorious.
UNB had less luck in the B Division final as they were upset by the X-Men 37-7. Ekangyela scored the lone try for the Ironmen, which was converted by William Daponte.
“We’ll be losing a few key senior players next year, but there is a strong core of young players on the squad,” said Paul. “It will be interesting to see how these players develop over the next year. We expect that the opposition in our league will continue to grow in strength as they have done this year, and we will have to improve our level of play to continue to be successful.”