Volume 93, Issue 10

Wednesday, September 15, 1999


Men start season with a bang

Making a run for the border

Soccer women split in season opener

Rugby women conquor Quebec

Jays' winning formula

Rugby women conquor Quebec

Gazette file photo
THE GREAT RUGBY SCRAMBLE. The women's rugby team played McGill and Concordia this weekend in their first inter-league games.

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

The women's rugby team rolled over the preseason competition without even try-ing.

The Western women travelled to Quebec last weekend to play two preseason matches against Concordia and McGill universities. Western was successful in both preseason games defeating Concordia 36-14 and McGill 20-5.

Mustang coach Natascha Wesch brought 36 of the 40 team members to the tournament in hopes of solidifing and executing newly implemented plays.

"The Quebec league is weaker than the Ontario league due to a more developed talent pool and grass roots system, so our real weaknesses were tougher to tell due to the competition," Wesch said.

The focus of the weekend, Wesch added, was to get different people playing with each other while in different positions. Wesch said she felt this was important, especially since the team was only chosen last Wednesday. "We have a lot of returning players but the 12 rookies on the team played very solid ball. The real focus of this weekend was to get the girls interacting with one another," she said.

Co-captain and flanker Ange Donovan agreed the weekend was a good opportunity for the new team to get to know each other. "We got to know the rookies really well. Upper-year players were not segregated from the first-years and that really helped with the play on the field," she said.

Donovan added the team seems to be coming together and taking the tools Wesch has given them right in time for the season opener against Waterloo. "Waterloo is still new to the league but they were the only team that beat Guelph last season, so they cannot be taken lightly," she said.

Western's other captain and fullback Andrea Haney was not only confident the team will be ready for the season, but she was also confident in its new members. "Our goal this year is to beat Guelph and [McMaster], they are always our biggest opponents every year," she said.

The team has been together for two weeks now and Haney said they are all aware of each other's capabilities. "This weekend really worked out the only real weakness we had – and that was the lack of time we've played together. By the end of the two days I couldn't tell the difference between the rookies and the veterans," she said.

Vince Degrandpre, McGill's women's rugby coach, said the games were more of a scrimmage style, where first and second string players played together. "The level of play was extremely good for this early in the season. Our women did very well against Western considering the Mustangs were near the top last year," she said.

Degrandpre added his team will not see Western again unless both teams go deep into the finals of the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union this year. "[McGill], like Western, choked in last year's play-offs which was a downer on such a good season for both teams," Degrandpre said.

Looking at the Ontario University Athletics, Degrandpre was envious at the talent pool and depth the Ontario league has when compared to the Quebec conference, but added his team learned a lot from the weekend's experience. "It was great having them down. Hopefully, next year we'll be able to make the trip down to London and do the same sort of thing."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999