Perennial champs take down Mustang women
By Kevin Smith
According to head referee Ian Trevor, if you missed the trip to Guelph for the Ontario University Athletic rugby championship on Saturday, "you missed one of the most entertaining games of the year."
Western and Guelph put on a fine display of technique and sound fundamental rugby according to both head coaches. Guelph's Jim Atkinson and Western's Natasha Wesch had nothing but fine things to say about the quality of rugby played on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, Western was on the short end of the stick when the full time whistle blew.
Guelph defeated Western 20-8, winning their fifth-straight OUA title and are now looking forward to the national finals at McMaster. Atkinson praised Western for the level of play they brought to the championship match. "I was pleased to see the two best teams in women's rugby competing for the provincial title, but I am disappointed that Western isn't able to compete in the nationals," Atkinson said.
Ontario is only allowed to send two representatives to the championships and since McMaster is hosting the tournament this year, they are automatically entered.
Although Western won't be in attendance, Natasha Wesch had nothing but praise for the team. Wesch described the game as neck and neck all the way through and said the score doesn't speak for the intensity during the game.
Western, however, could not handle the bursting speed of Jenn Rombeek. The game's most valuable player touched down one try, one convert and a penalty kick to pace the Guelph attack.
"Western had to put their key players in the back and the Guelph forward pack took over the game," Wesch said.
From the beginning, Guelph took the lead and decided not to look back, fending off a strong Mustang counter-attack. For a majority of the game Guelph held an uneasy 13-8 lead, but sealed Western's fate with a try in the dying minutes of the game to lock up the championship.
"The Western backs were getting overlapped and we weren't looking for it," said Mustang veteran Vicki Peacey. "We started flat-footed and Guelph scored early. That's where we got hurt."
Looking back, Wesch said she has no regrets. She was more than impressed with her young ruggers under her wing. "They were like a sponge absorbing everything I told them and they are a great bunch of ladies."
They finished the regular season at a stunning 6-1. Next season may even bring more hope to a team which is losing only few players out of a possible 40, with the likes of Tamara Curtis, Peacey and Mandy Batti leaving for graduation.
Peacey said she was stunned at the natural chemistry which the team displayed this season considering the amount of new members.