50TH VANIER CUP INTERVIEW SERIES: 2013
A conversation with.
Pascal Lochard, running back, Laval University Rouge et Or
In Vanier Cup XLIX, the Laval Rouge et Or claimed their eighth national title in 15 years — and their second in a row — thanks to a 25-14 victory over the Calgary Dinos in front of a standing room-only crowd of 18,543 at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City. It was Laval’s second triumph on home turf in four seasons, both times against the Dinos. Playing in his final university contest, running back Pascal Lochard was named game MVP after he tallied 184 yards and a crucial touchdown on 25 carries and helped the Rouge et Or set a Vanier Cup rushing record for the second straight year.
You had missed the 2012 Vanier Cup with an injury. What kind of emotions were you going through on the eve of the 2013 game?
Since I was still injured, I was going through all kinds of emotions. I was worried about aggravating my knee injury and not being able to perform to my full potential, or even not being able to play at all. Those were the emotions early in the week. However, my desire to succeed was stronger than anything else. Following the Thursday practice, my level of confidence went up a notch. I had made a couple of good runs and I felt I’d be able to play. All this to say, there was some stress going into the game, but I was confidant.
What is your major memory of the entire Vanier Cup weekand the overall experience?
The week was memorable. Other than our first-year players, everyone had been there before. However, not all the guys knew what it felt like to lose in the Vanier Cup. The captains and veterans, we doubled our efforts to made sure we led by example. School, girlfriends, family, friends, everything took a back seat to our ultimate goal.
We really believed in our chances, due in large part to our impeccable work ethic during Vanier week. From the first team meetings to the last video sessions late at night, nothing was left to chance. Thanks to all of that, the experience was magical. Anything is possible when you put in the necessary efforts.
Personally, the experience was euphoric. At the end of the game, I could barely contain my emotions. It was a great day for the Rouge et Or and an unforgettable experience for me.
(Note: In 2013, Laval set a record with its fourth straight Vanier Cup appearance. Before missing the 2012 final with an injury, Lochard had been part of the 2010 triumph against Calgary as a rookie and had suffered the agony of defeat in 2011, when Laval suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to McMaster)
What is your one major lasting memory of the actual game?
I remember the game ending with a solid tackle by Michaël Langlois and everyone rushing the field. Since I couldn’t run because my knee had gone a little sore, I had sort of an outside view. It was almost like being in a movie. The exaltation from my teammates and coaches at the end of the game is something I’ll never forget.
What do you remember as the key play of the game?
The forced fumble by Michaël Langlois early in the fourth quarter as the Dinos were threatening and had momentum.
(Note: Trailing 9-0 early in the third quarter, the Dinos scored two quick touchdowns and Laval’s lead had been cut to 15-14 heading into the fourth. On Calgary’s first drive of the final frame, Jake Harty caught a pass at the Laval 48-yard line but was tackled by Langlois and fumbled the ball, which was picked up by Vincent Plante)
What was your personal greatest play or moment?
I had a number of very nice runs but none as important as my touchdown. It was our only TD of the game and ended up being a difference-maker.
(Note: Lochard had set the tone early in the game with 12 and 18-yard runs on Laval’s opening series, which was capped by a field goal only three minutes in. However, his most important run of the day came 5:48 into the fourth quarter when he scored from eight yards out to increase the Rouge et Or lead to 22-14. As a team, Laval racked up an incredible 449 rushing yards in the game, eclipsing its own Vanier Cup record of 373 set the previous year against McMaster)
Did the coaches do anything different from normal routine in the preparation for the game?
Absolutely nothing. The coaches at Laval always prepared us the same way, no matter the opponent.
How did you or the team react to the TELUS-UL Stadium crowd?
Even though we’re used to playing in front of large crowds at Laval, a screaming crowd of over 18,000 can give you the chills and gets your adrenaline going.
What are your memories of the post-game celebrations on the field and/or in the dressing room?
The post-game speech from our heard coach, Glen Constantin, which ends when we pop the champagne, is an absolute must. What got to me the most, especially after the last Vanier Cup, was being able to celebrate with the coaches. I have a lot of respect and admiration for them because I know their drive and desire to win are as strong as mine. They work so hard. Being able to interact with them in a festive environment was amazing.
What was the reaction on campus and in town following the victory?
We were honoured at the National Assembly in Quebec City. Some of our professors also mentioned our win before classes.
At the time, how did winning the Vanier Cup change your everyday life?
It didn’t change much for me. Of course, we take some time to enjoy the win, but then it’s back to the books before it’s exam time and, inevitably, you’re a little late because of the long playoff run.
How often to you reminisce about that Vanier Cup win?
I think about it sometimes but I don’t talk about it that much, unless I want to tease my friends on the Carabins!
What did you study at Laval and what are you doing today?
I graduated with a business administration degree and I’m now playing in the CFL with the BC Lions.
(Note: After being selected in the second round, 14th overall, by BC in the 2014 CFL draft, Lochard made the team and spent the entire season on the Lions’ roster).