The Acadia Axemen will play Western University in the national football semifinals this weekend after only three days of rest, raising concerns about their shortened recovery time.
Acadia University won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) football championship, known as the Loney Bowl, on Tuesday. The Axemen defeated Saint Mary’s University 45-38 in overtime on their home turf in Wolfville, N.S.
“We got some protein in us and starting to prepare for Western,” said Cameron Davidson, a running back for Acadia. “I mean, we are still enjoying the win, but we are already into meetings this afternoon and just focusing on Saturday.”
However, Acadia coach Jeff Cummins is concerned about the health of his players. Cummins said there are “safety hazards” involved in having only three days of rest.
“Three days rest is going to be tough physically,” he said.
Cummins added that NFL players have played games on a Sunday and been forced to play again on Thursday with little time to recover. However, they have the technology to protect their players’ health and safety, including access to therapy units and ice machines.
“We don’t have that access, so we are going to do everything we can to get our guys back and ready to play, but it’s going to be tough on three days rest,” said Cummins.
Traditionally, Acadia would have a full week of recovery before the next game, but with the controversy surrounding the Loney Bowl the game was pushed to Tuesday.
The Loney Bowl was scheduled to be played on Nov. 11. AUS, the governing body of university sports in the region, cancelled the game last Thursday as the eligibility of a Saint Mary’s University player was being investigated.The AUS decided Acadia would advance to the national semifinal by default.
In response, Saint Mary’s turned to Nova Scotia Supreme Court to try to force the AUS to hold the Loney Bowl. After a two-day hearing last weekend, Associate Chief Justice Deborah Smith ruled the two universities should play the championship game by Tuesday.
Acadia argued in court that this would not leave enough time for student athletes to recover before the next game. John Keith, Acadia’s lawyer, called the situation a “first-class mess” and said it wasn’t Acadia’s fault.
For the Axemen, the next three days will be spent analyzing previous games and preparing to compete against the Western Mustangs. The players will begin practicing Wednesday night in preparation for that game.
“We are just trying to get refocused,” said Matthew Nettle, a linebacker for the Axemen.
The Axemen will move into this weekend’s semifinal game against the Mustangs with four consecutive wins. The national semifinal game will be played Saturday at home in Wolfville. The winner will compete for the Vanier Cup.
Although Cummins is concerned about his players’ recovery time, he said the players are not letting this get in the way.
“The opportunity to play in a semifinal game doesn’t happen very often, so they’re going to be excited to play.”