Volume 92, Issue 26
Wednesday, October, 21 1998
bound and gagged
Mustangs get Irish creamed
© Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
By Dave Elia
Two Western Mustangs found out first hand this summer how serious the Irish take their rugby, when they travelled to Ireland with the Canadian under-20 rugby team.
Western's Peter Crocker and Aaron Abrams understood beforehand what they were competing against, which made their 0-4 record while on the trip easier to swallow.
"We could only take it as a learning experience. It's like an instinct to them," Crocker said. "They know the game so well."
Crocker, who hails from Scarborough, has only played rugby since grade nine, but has played on the provincial team and Toronto's Irish Canadians. This summer was his first time playing for the national squad.
"Top level coaches and watching the Irish teams, has helped me with the small things and has made Aaron and I better players," he said.
Abrams, who has competed in international competition in previous years, felt the trip was a great experience for Crocker.
"It was a big step for Peter," Abrams said. "He learned a lot from the good coaches we had leading the team."
Abrams played for a national club last April when he travelled to France to play in the Rugby Junior World Cup. However, this year's trip was also a big boost for his game.
"When you're playing against the best junior team in the world, you can only take it as a learning experience," he said.
Both players said the Irish team's skills were faster and they had more technique. Abrams said the Irish are simply on another level. "It was just higher calibre rugby."
The best part of the trip for Abrams was when he got to play hooker, a different position than from his usual back row station. As a result, Abrams scored a try for Canada.
Western's rugby coach, Gerry Slattery, has noticed a difference in the two players since they returned from the national team.
"Although they have not played many games, you can see they have learned, with the impact they have in practice," he said.
Slattery commends the players for sharing and expressing what they have learned in Ireland and especially helping out the younger players. Slattery has also noted the players have greatly matured.
As for the Western side, both players and coach,have high expectations for the squad, despite their 3-2 record.
"The last two games have been a disaster," said Slattery. "We lost our ways, I think the team realizes it is hard to defend under pressure."
Crocker has noticed the team has not been geared up for the last few games. But he has also noticed the team "has a lot a depth, is very strong and has all the mechanics to repeat."
The Mustangs will be at McMaster this weekend and home to York next week.
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