We have a great cover story in our December print issue about Université Laval’s powerhouse football team, the Rouge et Or. As our affable writer Mark Cardwell explains in his informative, well-written piece, the Rouge et Or have been the top-ranked team in Canadian football for the past five years. They’ve won five Vanier Cup titles (the university equivalent of the Grey Cup) and were expected to be a shoo-in for this year’s championship this coming Saturday, Nov. 28.
The Vanier Cup is being hosted by Quebec City for the first time this year, so the team could fulfill its dream of winning in front of the hometown fans. It was almost preordained.
A colleague, Nick Taylor-Vaisey — who worked for University Affairs this past summer and was a sports reporter during his student years — agreed it was a great story when he read a first draft of it earlier this fall. But he had one little quibble: nothing is inevitable in university sports. There are several great teams, he said, and all it takes is for one of them to play one great game in the playoffs and Laval’s out.
Well, he was prescient. This past Saturday — after a 9-1 record so far this season, winning the divisional title and beating teams by scores like 73-7, 50-0 and 63-1 — the Rouge et Or lost to the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the Mitchell Bowl in Kingston, 33-30. It was a crushing defeat for Laval, despite the close score.
Meeting the Golden Gaels in Quebec City will be the number two-ranked University of Calgary Dinosaurs, who knocked off the Saint Mary’s Huskies 38-14 in the Uteck Bowl in Halifax.
Will Quebeckers come out to watch the Vanier Cup anyway? “It’s going to be tough,” Benoît Groulx, the Laval quarterback, told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “I don’t even know if I’ll watch the game.”
The Globe called the win by Queen’s “a triumph for smaller budget football programs in Canada.” And, we might add, a defeat for destiny.