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OUA Men’s Rugby All-Stars and Coach of the Year at RMC

Sean McDonaugh, head coach of the RMC Paladins rugby team, earned his second career OUA Coach of the Year award. Photo by Reuben Polansky-Shapiro

On Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) announced the league All-Stars and major award winners, days after the RMC Paladins qualified for the Rugby Canada University National Championship.

RMC’s Thomas Weissenborn, Brayden Gray, Matthew Young, and Glenn Butler were named OUA East All-Stars, while head coach Sean McDonaugh earned his second career OUA Coach of the Year award, according to a release from the Paladins.
 
“Those guys’ commitment to the defensive part of the game, and taking care of the set piece stuff – particularly the three guys that are forwards – has led to their individual successes, but also enabled us this year to pull off an upset against McMaster and hang in a couple other games,” McDonaugh said.
 
The Paladins finished the regular season with a 3-1 record, having defeated Toronto, McMaster, and Trent. Queen’s, who will host the national championship at the end of November, was the only team to top RMC this season.

Weissenborn, Gray, and Young are the Paladins forwards who earned recognition around the league for their efforts this year, while fullback Butler was named an OUA All-Star for the second time in his career. Despite making the OUA playoffs, qualifying for nationals, and earning Coach of the Year honours, McDonaugh’s top moment of the season came in a semi-final loss to Queen’s, and had little to do with the sport of rugby itself.
 
“For all the different things we’ve done this year, for me that was the highlight so far of the year: us looking out for each other when one of us took a pretty big thumping on the goal line,” said McDonaugh. “I just liked the way our best players came over and literally picked that guy off the ground and put their arms around him and walked back to the huddle.”

“Our best players are also our best people, and that’s fantastic,” he said.

Praising his athletes for their play in 2021, McDonaugh was proud of what each All-Star has accomplished this season, starting with the two veteran forwards.

“Thomas Weissenborn at loosehead really came in and took some pride in what he was doing there at the loosehead role,” he said. “Same thing with Brayden Gray: his defence really improved quite dramatically this year, particularly his one-up tackling, and his work in the air in the lineouts was really, really strong.”

Young, who will be returning to RMC next year, earned similar commendation for how he has developed since the previous season.

“Asking Matt Young to transition from flanker to hooker was a big deal,” McDonaugh said. “He has to be able to throw the ball at lineouts; he has to lead the scrum. In both those areas, he became pretty strong in this year, and his defence has just gone off the ramps, plus he carries the ball so well now on attack.”
 
McDonaugh also explained what makes Butler such a unique defensive and offensive threat for the Paladins.

“When you break through the line, normally in rugby, you’re like, ‘OK, we’re going to get something done here,’ but unfortunately, you run into Glenn Butler, who’s going to tackle you and then steal the ball from you and survive two or three guys trying to clear him out. And at the same time, he’s obviously our best attacking player,” he explained.
 
As for his own accolade, the Paladins said that McDonaugh was quick to share the honour among his coaching staff and this year’s leadership group.

“That Coach of the Year nomination is really about the coaching team and the senior athletes graduating,” he said. “It’s just recognizing the efforts and the special people we have surrounding the cadets.”
 
While a number of the leaders on the team have already been named for their All-Star status, the coaching staff this year is comprised of assistant coaches Beth Barz, David Harries, Michael Boire, Les Davidson, and RMC alumnus Matt Sinasac.
 
The Paladins said they are lucky to have the experience of fellow OUA Coach of the Year winners in Barz and Davidson, the continuous dedication to the College of Harries and Boire, as well as the enthusiasm of Sinasac alongside McDonaugh as RMC prepares for nationals.

For more information about RMC sports visit the RMC Paladins website.

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