Volume 91, Issue 82

Thursday, March 5, 1998

Lady Liberty


Ruggers don't need Irish luck

Graphic by Janice Olynich

By Mike Sikorski
Gazette Staff

During a month which had Canadians representing the country at the Winter Olympics in Japan, Western had its own athletic ambassadors displaying their talents – but on a smaller international scale.

The Western Mustang women's rugby squad travelled overseas to Ireland last week to test their game against a country known for rugby, four leaf clovers and pubs on every street corner.

The first match was played against the local team in Skerries, a little fishing village on the East coast of Ireland. However, luck was nowhere to be found for the Irish and Western was able to demolish the host team 46-3.

"We were practically celebrities and the word was out that the Canadians were in town," head coach Natascha Wesch said about the enjoyable atmosphere that surrounded the game. "It was a good game, although the opposition was rather inexperienced. It was a perfect way to get over our jet-lag and to get our minds switched onto rugby."

The team then moved on to the town of Clane and played the Clane Women's Rugby Football Club, but again lady luck was not on Ireland's side as a well-rested Mustang team blanked the host 62-0.

Next stop, Limerick – home to the All-Ireland national champions, Old Cresent WRFC. Mustang Vickey Peacey said this was Western's most challenging match-up and she was extremely impressed with how she and her teammates stood up to the competition which ended in a hard-fought 10-10 tie. "They had six national team players so we were expecting to get blown away, but after they scored the first two tries we were able to dominate the rest of the game," Peacey added.

Gaining the confidence of tying Ireland's top team certainly paid off as the Western team was able to knock off the second-ranked Corinthians WRFC and end their tour of Ireland undefeated.

"This tour fulfilled all of our expectations and more," Wesch said. "We were able to learn about another country and to promote women's rugby internationally."

The level of competition during the trip was a surprise to many of the players who felt the competition in Ireland would be much stronger. Coach Wesch said her team played exceptionally and represented Canada and Western in superb fashion.

"The team played well, especially considering we are in the middle of our off-season and in Ireland they are in full season. We came, we saw, we conquered," she said.

Wesch said winning the bronze medal in the OUA this year and coming off such a successful tour of Ireland should help Western's chances of recruiting some top players in future years.

The tour also gave some indication of how Canada's women will fair in the 1998 Rugby World Cup, to be held in Holland. Representation from Western will be strong on the Canadian squad with graduating Mustang Meagan Haney being selected as a non-travelling reserve on the team, while Wesch will be returning to the field after being named to the playing roster.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998