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First home game in a Rouge et Or uniform: a childhood dream come true for a rookie player

First home game in a Rouge et Or uniform: a childhood dream come true for a rookie player

The first home match of the new season always takes on a special character, and this also applies to the Université Laval Rouge et Or junior team, who will experience the baptism of the university ranks under the reflectors on Saturday evening, in a match that will be played on the small screen in front of more than 12 thousand spectators.

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A few hours before the visit of the McGill Redbirds, the excitement was palpable among all the Rouge et Or players, but even more so for the newbies who will be taking their first steps in PEPS.

A ball steward and water carrier, with his brother when his father Jacques was assistant coach at the Rouge et Or, or a simple fan sitting in the stands, Justin Cloutier has imagined this moment since he was young.

While a foot injury during running training during the summer season prevented him from participating in the training camp and the first match on the calendar in Sherbrooke, Cloutier has been back on the field with his teammates since Tuesday and will be able to face the Redbirds.

“It has been a long time since I dreamed of playing my first PEPS match in a Rouge et Or uniform,” said the rookie full-back. Having grown up in PEPS, I know the atmosphere well, but I’m excited nonetheless. “As a player, it will be completely different from what I have experienced before.”

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The defensive player par excellence on the Division I collegiate circuit over the past two years, Cloutier wasn’t a wide receiver when he was injured. “It was hard to accept,” he admitted. This injury was one of the biggest in my career, but my plan was to be ready for the second game of the season. “I got the green light from the medical team last week.”

match with his brother

Cloutier will play this first match with his brother Etienne, who earned the starting position during the camp. “We wanted to play together for a long time,” said Justin, who is two years younger than his brother. We played a game together in Limoelo in 2020, but it wasn’t a real season.

After a week of action where the Titans and Lennoxville Cougars were the only teams playing, the season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Factor in his decision

Even though he didn’t grow up in Quebec and has never attended a PEPS game, Jordan Lessard is excited to play his first home game. “I’m very excited and it’s going to be even bigger because I’m going to be a starter,” said John Abbott, who won Division II Player of the Week honors last year in an Islanders uniform. I’ve never been to a match in Quebec, but I’ve watched matches on TV. “The atmosphere there is one of the reasons I wanted to come here.”

A reserve in Sherbrooke, Lessard will make his first career start due to an injury to Emile Barthelemy who had to miss some training at the start of the week. “Emil and I have been good friends for a long time and we help each other all the time,” he confirmed. I was confident that I could achieve my place quickly even if the competition was high.

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Defensive back Edward Bolduc was also impatient with the idea of ​​playing his first game at home. “This first home game is exciting,” said the Élans de Garneau product. We will feel the energy of the audience. It will be a new match for me in white, but we will continue to focus on the match.

Enhanced atmosphere

For the first time in its history, Rouge et Or has reserved sections for students in order to improve the atmosphere on the field. These filled sections (3,000 places) in the end zone will be decorated and create a bar.