Volume 92, Issue 8

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

wheeling and dealing


Women ruggers aim for historic year

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
PASS THE PUMPERNICKEL Western's women's rugby team is ready to bash some heads this year for a chance at rugger greatness.

By Bryan Delaney
Gazette Writer

Women's rugby is making the leap into the Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union this year and Western's chances at becoming the first ever national champions are quite good.

With 15 returning seniors and a good crop of newcomers, coach Natasha Wesch is hoping to utilize a high-tempo offence to overpower the opposition this season and better last year's third-place finish. She recently had first-hand experience as part of the Canadian national team at the World Cup over the summer. The new offence yielded a fourth place finish for Canada and placed the nation within the upper echelon of women's rugby worldwide.

"My experience at the World Cup gave me a totally different perspective of rugby," Wesch said. "We've decided to combine some of it into what we have here and are very pleased and "gung ho" about the results. This should help the team develop more."

Another strength of this year's squad lies in the roster system that Wesch has in place. Each team member is interchangeable, resulting in a full 15 woman effort. This is a strategy that will likely become the standard for Canadian rugby teams in the future, according to Wesch. Western currently fields two women's teams – one varsity and the other a farm squad where new players can learn the fundamentals of Wesch's system.

The one concern this year involves injuries. There is a long off-season for rugby and the players have found it difficult to maintain the high level of fitness required for this intense game. There are currently six members on injured reserve with mainly nagging ankle and shoulder injuries.

There are several marquee players to watch this year including Andrea Haney.

Both Wesch and her teammates have commended Haney for having a great attitude and a willingness to learn.

When asked about Haney's contribution in the upcoming season Wesch simply smiled. "I think she'll be a force."

Co-captains Ang Donaven and Tamara Curtis are also expected to have a big impact on the league and their teammates with their leadership and talent.

Another veteran who will be looked to often is Mary Velpel. Returning to the field for the Mustangs after a torn anterior cruciate ligament forced her into managing duties last season, the national scholar is happy to be back to the rugby grind.

"It was tough to sit on the sidelines last season," she said.

The women's home opener is tomorrow at 4 p.m. on the rugby pitch across from J.W. Little Stadium.

Women's Schedule:

Thurs. Sept. 17 vs. Waterloo 4:00 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 19 @ RMC(exibition) 3:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 20 @ Queen's 1:00 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 27 vs. York 1:00 p.m.

Sun. Oct. 4 @ Brock 1:00 p.m.

Thurs. Oct. 8 vs. Guelph 7:00 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 17 vs. Toronto 1:00 p.m.

Sun. Oct. 25 vs. McMaster 1:00 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 31 OUA Semi-finals (1vs.4, 2vs.3)

Sat. Nov. 7 OUA Finals

Thurs. Nov. 12 - Sun. Nov. 15

CIAU Championships

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998