The Laval Rouge et Or successfully defended their Canadian title, Sunday afternoon, by defeating the Victoria Vikes 32-13 in the championship game of the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship, held in Quebec City.
For the Rouge et Or, it’s a second consecutive banner and a third title in four championships. The team from Quebec City now has a record of 3-1 in national finals, winning 22-5 against Queen’s last year in Victoria and 22-14 – also against Queen’s – in 2019 in Ottawa. Their only loss came at the 2017 event, held in Lethbridge, Alta., at the hands of the Ottawa Gee-Gees (20-10).
This is the first time since 2009 that a team has successfully defending a national championship. Between 2007 and 2009, the Lethbridge Pronghorns rattled off three consecutive championships.
This is the sixth medal overall for the Rouge et Or at the national rugby championship. For Victoria, this is their first U SPORTS women’s rugby medal.
The two teams exchanged blows early in the game. Second-team All-Canadians Madi Jumeau of Victoria and Cécile Lecerlc of Laval each scored a try within the first seven minutes of the game. Two penalty goals by the Vikes’ Maggie MacKinnon, sandwiching a try by Laurence Chabot of Laval, gave the Canada West finalists a 13-12 lead in the 22nd minute. This score held just before halftime, when Audrey Champagne grounded the ball in the in-goal area, much to the delight of the 1,708 fans at the Stade TELUS-Université Laval. She converted her own try to send the Rouge et Or into halftime up 19-13.
The Rouge et Or extended their lead in the middle of the second half when Alice Théberge scored her first try of the tournament, making the score 24-13 and the boisterous crowd felt victory was approaching. Corinne Fréchette, the tournament MVP, scored the try that settled matters in the 67th minute.
Théberge was named player of the game for Laval, while Faith Tilley earned similar honours for Victoria. Laval placed six players on the tournament all-star team, while UVic had four players, Queen’s had three while Guelph and UBC had one each. The UPEI Panthers rounded out the tournament honorees by winning the R.W. Pugh Award for fair play.
The 2024 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship will be held in Charlottetown, hosted by UPEI.
Players of the Game
- LAV - #8 Alice Théberge
- VIC - #4 Faith Tilley
Laval 32 – Victoria 13
- VIC - Try Madi Jumeau – 2nd (conversion Maggie Mackinnon) (7-0)
- LAV - Try Cécile Leclerc – 7th (conversion Audrey Champagne) (7-7)
- VIC - Penalty goal Maggie Mackinnon – 15th (10-7)
- LAV - Try Laurence Chabot – 17th (12-10)
- VIC - Penalty goal Maggie Mackinnon – 22nd (12-13)
- LAV - Try Audrey Champagne (conversion Audrey Champagne)– 40th (19-13)
- LAV - Try Alice Théberge – 57th (24-13)
- LAV - Try Corinne Fréchette – 67th (29-13)
- LAV – Penalty goal Audrey Champagne – 79th (32-13)
2023 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship Award winners
Monilex Trophy (national champion): Laval Rouge et Or
Championship MVP : Corinne Fréchette, Laval
Championship All-Stars : (listed in position order, from 1 to 15)
- Cécile Leclerc, Laval
- Alexie Lachapelle-Johnstone, Laval
- Tattyannah Jackson, Queen’s
- Faith Tilley, Victoria
- Izzy Page, Queen’s
- Kennedy Feasby, Guelph
- Alice Théberge, Laval
- Rachel Smith, UBC
- Corinne Fréchette, Laval
- Maggie Mackinnon, Victoria
- Carmen Izyk, Queen’s
- Audrey Champagne, Laval
- Larah Wright, Victoria
- Maelle Reed, Victoria
- Marie-Laura Choquette, Laval
R.W. Pugh Award for Fair Play: UPEI Panthers