Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Put them in, Coach, Western is ready to play

TSN becomes death match

The rebirth of cricket: the cycle of sporting life

Scrummaging answers from Natascha Wesch

Scrummaging answers from Natascha Wesch

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Twenty questions consists of questions asked to a different Western head coach each week. This week looks at half of Western's rugby program and places women's coach Natascha Wesch under the microscope.

Wesch was born and raised in the hockey hotbed of Montreal, Quebec. She said she remembers playing women's hockey when a male friend told her the city was starting a women's club rugby team. "The team was actually going to be associated with the men's team. The same friend actually told me to request the position that I've played my entire life – scrum half," Wesch said.

After completing her undergraduate degree, a bachelor of science in exercise science at Concordia university, Wesch left to pursue her masters in bio-chemistry at Western and continue playing rugby.

"When I got to Western I was just looking to play rugby. But after [Western athletics] saw I had played on the national team, they asked me to coach. So I became a player/coach in my first season," she said.

Despite meeting numerous people and travelling across the province over her career, Wesch said her true love for the game comes from how demanding rugby is, both mentally and physically.

"I used to compete in both gymnastics and tennis at the provincial level when I was growing up. Now its running, weight training and rugby in the summer and running, weight training and hockey in the winter," she said.

The progression of Women's rugby at the university level is something Wesch said has grown in leaps and bounds. "When I first came out for the team there were 25 other girls playing and it used to only be a club team. It was very basic and many of them had no experience. This year we had 65 girls and carry both an A and B team."

When asked if retiring as coach of Western's rugby team would end a perfect career, Wesch said her goal is to progress through the Canadian program, coaching seniors at the provincial and national levels.

"The only thing that is holding me back from fulfilling those dreams is that I am still playing. I'm giving myself two more world cups, which come every four years. We'll see how my body is holding up after that."

Wesch said her biggest rugby influences have come in the form of several people over the years.

"Few people taught me or challenged me to improve my game like Kevin Jones, my first national team coach. More recently, Sil White, coach of both the provincial women's and the McMaster university men's rugby team, has had a huge impact on my play," she said.

When asked about the state of women's rugby at the national level, Wesch said Canadian rugby is already meeting the levels set by European standards. "What we really want to reach is the level that New Zealand is at, but the government funding is just not there. Canada still has to pay for themselves to represent their country. When I started it was $1,000 for the trip, now it is $300, so we are making process," she said.

Canada's rival right now at the national level lies south of the border and is an opponent the national team has never beaten. "This summer, against the United States, we came the closest we've ever come to beating them. The final was 16-11 and if it were not for a couple of scores late in the game we would have won."

Prying Wesch away from rugby may be easier said than done, but when she does get away from the sport Wesch said she enjoys watching movies, specifically comedies starring Mike Myers and Adam Sandler. "But, I'll take a rugby movie over those other ones any day," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999