Volume 93, Issue 19

Thursday, September 30, 1999



Landsberg lands on the Beach

There's a new captain in town

Stadium without a roar

There's a new captain in town

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
REACHING FOR THE BALL. Aaron Abrams (6) co-captain of the Western's men's rugby team will have to lead his team as they reach for championship gold this season.

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Writer

Rugby is a game where broken bones, chipped teeth and concussions are simply par for the course.

These things would scare the average athlete away quickly, but for Aaron Abrams, second-year administrative and commercial studies student and captain of the Western's men's rugby team, it was love at first sight.

"At my high school, rugby was huge," Abrams said. "I started playing it to get in shape for football which I had been playing since I was eight and I fell in love with it."

The London native, whose family moved to Mississauga when he was three, was a natural at the game. Only a second-year player on Western's team, Abrams can already boast of playing at the national level and recently being named a team co-captain at Western, along with veteran Oren Smith.

Last year, the squad reached the Ontario University Athletics finals only to lose a tough match to Guelph university. Already adjusting to his new role of leadership, Abrams was quick to outline the goals for this year's team.

"Knock down each team one by one and eventually get back to the OUA finals, but reverse the result from last year," he said.

On the field, Abrams is a flanker, a position which carries a lot of responsibility for the Mustang's success. Due to his position, much of Western's game can depend on his actions.

"[Abrams] is the eyes and the ears for a lot of guys on the field," said Gerry Slattery, Western's head coach.

Abrams gave a more direct assessment of his role on the team, downplaying his impact on the club and instead focusing on the essentials of his job. "My job is to make tackles and play physical," he said.

On a team that was hit hard over the summer with the loss of veterans, Abrams must deal with young players who have limited experience at the university level. At the same time, he has to lead a team which is expected to reach the OUA finals again. Team veteran Colin Shaw said Abrams is exactly what the rugby program at Western needs, especially with so many new players.

"[Abrams] is a great example for the younger guys, he trains hard in the summer, he eats right and he works his ass off in practice," he said.

Any lingering doubts about Abrams' commitment to the team and his ability to be a captain at such a young age are answered by Slattery. "I don't remember a second-year player who, when factoring in actions on and off the field, was at his maturity level."

Despite all of his accomplishments, Abrams was still surprised to be named team co-captain, a post given to him through a vote by his fellow teammates. "I was really, really honoured. I wasn't really expecting it, being in second year, but it came down to a vote with the players and I got in," he said.

Shaw put to rest any notion that having a sophomore for a co-captain may rub the veterans the wrong way. "I'm sure the young guys look up to him and with the veterans he earns a mutual respect."

Abrams pointed to his older brother Paul, a member of Western's basketball team, as a major reason for his devotion and commitment to the game. "If any one has been an inspiration, it's him," he said.

Abrams will again lead his team onto the field Homecoming weekend against the Mustangs biggest rival, Queen's university. The game will begin at 1 p.m. at the Huron Flats.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999