Ruggers mix youth
By Alison Stolz
WRATH OF MY STRAIGHT-ARM CHICKEN WING. The Western women's
rugby team plans on sending a message to this year's OUA
competition... and eat lots of chicken.
The women's rugby team is back and its members
aren't willing to rest on their laurels.
After winning silver medals last year in
both the Ontario University Athletics and Canadian Interuniversity
Sport finals, it will be a challenge for this year's Mustangs
to better their own titles. However, according to head coach
Natascha Wesch, that's exactly the goal for this year's team.
"We are pretty excited about the upcoming
season," Wesch said. "We have a really strong core
of returning players and our recruitment served us well."
The team is comprised of 19 returning and
13 new players, all with high levels of athletic ability. The
roster of 32 players has increased from last year's team of
30, a decision deemed necessary for a successful season due
to the high frequency of injuries. For example, during the latter
part of the summer a player that planned on returning tore her
ACL and while she is currently responding well to rehab, if
surgery is required then an extra player is available to fill
the empty spot. As well, one player is currently unavailable
because of mononucleosis; she's also not yet fully recovered.
This past weekend, the Mustangs got their
first taste of victory at the University of Toronto with a 19-11
win. It wasn't until the second half the team really got into
a groove, scoring all 19 points.
The team has now realized its obvious strengths
and weaknesses and intends to work on building team cohesion.
"There were many individual performances in the game, but
it will just be a matter of time until the players work together
[as a team]," Wesch stated.
As a result of this year's double cohort,
the pool of potential players was much larger than in years
past. Because of this, the team has benefited from a much higher
level of athletic aptitude and rugby skills than the previous
year. The experiences of a number of players who have played
at the junior national and provincial national level adds not
only enhanced playing ability, but leadership potential as well.
Two players to watch out for this year are
veterans Jen Kryszak and Kristen Ferguson. Kryszak played at
the senior provincial level while Ferguson was part of the "Under-23"
national team this summer. With so much talent on the team,
Wesch believes "it's just a matter of putting it all together
and taking the gold."
Anyone interested in watching the team in
action can catch the Mustangs take on the Waterloo Warriors
next Wed., Sep. 24 at 4 p.m. The game takes place on the rugby
pitch, which is located across the street from the former site
of J.W. Little Stadium.