Volume 93, Issue 9
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
Western rugby tradition continues
YEAH, I'VE GOT NO TEETH, SO WHAT? The Purple and White alumni game traditionally brings out a lot of toothless old-timers who love gumming the fat with the team of today.
By Sean Maraj
"The further back you look, the more forward you are likely to see." Those immortal words, spoken by Winston Churchill, best describe the Purple and White men's alumni rugby game held at Western last Sunday.
The alumni game is one in which the score doesn't really matter everyone comes together to talk about the good old times and above all else, play rugby.
Western men's head coach Gerry Slattery said he views the game as presenting an image of rugby history at Western. "It gives them a sense of tradition and it paints a picture for them of the road that lies ahead," he said. "They see some players with license plates from around the province and who are successful or they are starting their careers."
The game brings back players of yester-year to play against today's squad in what is the only exhibition game the Mustangs will play before the regular season starts. Former Western player John Cruise, a 1999 Administrative and Commerical Studies graduate, took a break from the action and summed up the purpose of the game. "The old guys like coming back, the new guys like us coming back. It's a way to bridge the time gap between the past and today," he said.
The Alumni game over the years has become a tradition for the Mustang men's team. The importance of the game and the past glory it brings to the present is something not lost on today's team. One of the few veteran wings on this year's team, fifth-year kinesiology student Colin Shaw, was quick to point out the impact of the game on today's team.
"[It's] a good way for the older guys and young guys to interact and pass on a tradition. Plus it gives [Slattery] a chance to try new things," he said.
Slattery said he views the whole experience as very emotional. "You see players from the last three and four years, a lot are playing in the Ontario Senior League. Many of them travelled with us and were there when we won the 1997 [Ontario University Athletic] championship."
Many of the older players coming back are quick to make comparisons to the teams of today and the ones they played on when they attended Western.
Former player and 1999 kinesiology graduate Todd Larman wasn't shy in his evaluation of this year's team. "Energy wise they're top notch, but experience wise, in crunch time experience, they're lacking."
However, Larman remained optimistic about his successors and their chances this season. "They still have a good solid veteran core in centre Oren Smith and Peter Crocker at lock. They're going to go all the way."
All in all, the returning alumni were satisfied Western's rugby tradition was going to be in good hands this year.
"They're going to carry on the proud Western tradition, plus they have really nice shirts," Cruise said.
For the players, both new and old, the game has one thing which outweighs all the rest closing the gap between the past and the present. The one thing which brings all past players back to their old stomping ground, is the overall fun tone of the game. Dann Cushing, a fourth-year business administration student at Western, summed up the ultimate draw of the alumni game. "[It's] a good game where we don't feel obligated to win and we get to try new things. Plus it's a hell of a lot of fun," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999