Volume 95, Issue 17
Friday, September 28, 2001
As good as it gets
Mustangs welcome rivalry
By Dave Martin
Leafs vs. Canadiens, Lakers vs. Celtics, Bills vs. Dolphins these are some of the greatest rivalries in all of sport.
Over the last four years, a new rivalry has emerged in mens' university rugby Western vs. Queen's.
The Mustangs have won the OUA Championships three out of the last four years, each time over their Kingston counterparts.
This Saturday, our men host Queen's in what should be an outstanding game, as it is the first time they've met since Western's unbelievable come-from-behind victory in last year's finals.
Queen's head coach Brad Greenwood definitely knows his team will be motivated for this game.
"Anytime you get Western and Queen's playing against each other, both squads will definitely rise to the occasion. Every player understands the implications of the game, as we have both been at the top of the league for the past few years," Greenwood said.
Western head coach Jerry Slattery certainly realizes how strong the rivalry has grown, but is quick to point out it hasn't always been like that and the first win was very important in 1997.
"The victory [in '97] was the toughest mentally for the team, as we had to face the history of breaking a twenty-year drought. That win was a turning point in our rugby program, as it completely changed the attitude of everyone in the program and all those interested in it. It confirmed our success and gave confidence to incoming players that our system worked," Slattery said.
He went on to explain what "the system" is and why it has been so effective over the last four years.
"I believe that success, especially in the long-term, is directly related to the attitude and personality of the team. We go out and try recruiting people that best fit our attitude and though [they] aren't necessarily the best skilled, [they] have strong work ethics and are good people," he said.
"The guys that 'fit' will accept our attitude and last. They realize the first year you'll give more than you receive, but if they stick through, by the end, they've received much more than they've given," he said.
Slattery also stressed the importance of how much time the team spends together off the field on tours or in social settings as these opportunities build trust and comaraderie that has great benefits in their play.
Fourth-year veteran Pat Graham explained the effects this bond has had on his career.
"My first-year was completely different than any other year, obviously, as I was a rookie, but also because the veterans really promoted doing everything together, especially socially.
"When we lost in the finals, it hurt way more than you can imagine because we were so close as a group. From that point on we really buckled down and for the last two years, [we] have been more focussed on the task at hand and the results have shown it," Graham said.
Although this Saturday's game is still early in the season, the intensity level shown by Western and Queen's is sure to be high as the players take the field at noon.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001