50TH VANIER CUP INTERVIEW SERIES: Glen Constantin, Laval Rouge et Or (2010)

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50TH VANIER CUP INTERVIEW SERIES: 2010

A conversation with.

..

Glen Constantin, head coach, Laval University Rouge et Or

In Vanier Cup XLVI, the Laval Rouge et Or captured their record-tying sixth national title thanks to a 29-2 triumph over the Calgary Dinos in front of a sold-out, hometown crowd of 16,237 at PEPS Stadium in Quebec City. Laval also became the only team in history to finish the season with a 13-0 record, thanks to an expanded nine-game regular schedule in the RSEQ. In his 10th campaign at the helm, Glen Constantin celebrated his fifth Vanier Cup win as a head coach, an all-time record.

What is your major memory of the entire Vanier Cup week and the overall experience in 2010?

Having the opportunity to play in a championship game at home, in front of our fans. In previous years, not everyone was able to follow us on the road to attend the Vanier Cup because of distance and associated cost. It was really special for our fans and our student-athletes.

(Note: Prior to 2010, the Rouge et Or had won the Vanier Cup twice in Toronto, twice in Hamilton and once in Saskatoon)

You had lost in the national semifinals in 2009, which prevented you from playing in the Vanier Cup on home turf. Did you feel additional pressure in 2010 since the national final was once again being held at PEPS Stadium?

There was definitely extra pressure. In a way, we felt like we had let our fans down the previous year, and we definitely didn’t want that to happen again in 2010. We left it all on the field against Western in the Bowl game, in a close-fought game that turned in our favour. It was quite a relief!

(Note: After dropping a heartbreaking 33-30 decision to Queen’s in the 2009 Mitchell Bowl in Kingston, the Rouge et Or advanced to the 2010 Vanier Cup thanks to a narrow 13-11 win over Western in the Uteck Bowl in Quebec City)

What is your one major lasting memory of the actual game?

Our first quarter was exceptional, that’s what I remember the most. We set the tone early with a 26-yard pass from Bruno Prud’homme to Victor Tremblay on our first series on offence. The touchdowns scored by Sébastien Lévesque and Yannick Morin-Plante were very important as well.

(Note: Laval led 17-0 after the first quarter and never looked back. After allowing a safety to Calgary in the second frame, the locals added 12 unanswered points in the second half on four field goals by Christopher Milo, who tied the Vanier Cup record with five field goals in the game)

What do you remember as the key play of the game?

Lévesque’s 41-yard touchdown after he went down with a knee injury early in the game was definitely one of the key plays. Morin-Plante’s major on a 40-yard catch-and-run also falls in that category, and so does the overall performance of our defence, which had an unbelievable game, allowing only 140 net yards to the Dinos.

(Note: Lévesque, a running back who would receive the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as game MVP, opened the scoring 4:27 into the contest, and Morin-Plante made it 14-0 three minutes later. The 140 net yards allowed by the Laval defence are a Vanier Cup record)

Did anything unusual or out of the ordinary happen during the game or during Vanier week?

In was unusual for our players to be at home on the eve of the biggest game of the season. It almost became a distraction. Usually, when we travel to a championship game, we’re together, isolated. It was different.

Did the coaches do anything different from normal routine in the preparation for the game?

We had to because the Dinos also had needs in terms of rooms, practices, etc. I also remember requiring a police escort to get to an indoor stadium in a suburb of Quebec City, in the middle of rush hour, so we wouldn’t cut into our practice time. So there were a few changes, but we tried our best to minimize the impact on the student-athletes.

How did the team react to the PEPS Stadium crowd?

It was fantastic. We used the energy from the crowd to its fullest from the opening whistle, and that’s probably what propelled us to victory. It is often said that our crowd in Quebec City is the best in Canada and frankly, on that day, they were in championship form!

What are your memories of the post-game celebrations on the field and/or in the dressing room?

The crowd stormed the field, which made the celebrations among the team a little hazardous. It even became a little dangerous. We weren’t really able to gather as a group, but we made up for it once we got back to the locker room, and it was really special to be able to celebrate a national championship in our house. I was especially happy for the kids. It really is a special experience and not everyone gets the chance to celebrate a national title with their friends and family.

(Note: Laval became only the second program to win the Vanier Cup in their hometown, joining the Toronto Varsity Blues in 1965 and 1993)

What was the reaction on campus and in the city after the win?

We were honoured at the National Assembly and we signed autographs in one of the city’s major malls, but for the student-athletes it was back to reality pretty quickly as the exams were fast approaching.

At the time, how did that Vanier Cup win change your everyday life?

It didn’t change my everyday life that much, but I remember a ton of pressure being lifted from everybody’s shoulders. At first, we were happy to get the chance to play in the championship game at home. But to play in it is one thing. To win it is another thing entirely.

How often to you reminisce about the 2010 Vanier Cup win?

Whenever we see players or coaches from that 2010 team, we sometimes talk about it and reminisce about the good times. Many people tell me it’s one of the best games we’ve played at home. I tend to agree with them.

Where did you go to university and what did you study?

I have a physical education degree from the University of Ottawa, where I played for the Gee-Gees as a linebacker and defensive lineman. I then had a number of coaching positions before joining the Rouge et Or as defensive coordinator in 1996. I’ve been head coach since the 2001 season.

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