Volume 91, Issue 18

Friday, September 26, 1997

Captain Scarlet


Rug pack give Wernstein a try

Geoff Robins/Gazette
OUT OF MY WAY GUYS, I'VE GOT PLACES TO GO AND HEADS TO SMASH. Experienced rugby captain Rob Wernstein has found a new home at Western and is spending his time running over the competition.

By Justin Klein
Gazette Staff

The Western Mustang rugby team has decided to give Rob Wernstein a try, with high hopes of getting a few from him in return.

During the off-season, Western's coaching staff worked hard at recruiting the highly-touted Wernstein, a graduate of Queen's. Known nationally as having exceptional talent, his addition is a major boost to an already strong program.

Wernstein's road to Western, however, was not paved in gold. After winning three OUAA championships in a four-year span and being named as an all-star in the 1993 season, he decided that Canada was becoming too boring and he needed a change. In 1994, Wernstein tore his anterior cruciat ligament, yet surprisingly still won the athlete-of-the-year award. When doctors warned him never to play rugby again, he headed to Paris to play for the Paris University Rugby Club.

After he dropped enough jaws in France, he continued on his world tour. Next stop, Prague, where he quickly proved his skills were too much for his opponents to handle. Wernstein then joined the Taupo Rugby Club in New Zealand. His knee continued to cause him problems, yet did little to affect his overpowering game. After the season, the talented star had a dilemma, return to Canada or show off his skills in the United States. He decided to bring his intensified game to Western, based on his feelings that the team has a ton of potential to win a championship.

"I hope that by following through and winning the championship, Western can enhance the image of their rugby team and assemble a stronger participation base that will help build rugby in Ontario and Canada," he said.

With a third-place ranking behind Queen's and McMaster respectively, Western has a lot to prove. In the team's first three games, Wernstein stood up to the test and proved that his skill and experience were more than exaggerated rumors.

"I felt that the team really came together for the re-match against McMaster," said the 26-year-old captain. "The loss demoralized them and the win was uplifting for us."

This victory made Western the second-ranked team, with a date with number-one ranked Queen's on Homecoming weekend – a chance for Wernstein to exact some revenge on his ex-team.

"I know that it will be a difficult game," Wernstein said. "I think that we will come together and beat my old team and claim the number-one rank position."

Western head coach Gerry Slattery cannot say enough positive things of his new captain. He has coached Wernstein on the London St. George's rugby team and has seen him prosper into a first class competitor.

"Rob is a major contributor to the team," Slattery said. "He is a mature player who only leads by example. He brings intensity to the team and his focused attitude helps the team head in the direction of a championship."

Wernstein will take his team to battle on the road this weekend against Laurier.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997