Tandem team up for the Pipe

Ness, Clift lead ruggers to 2-0 start

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Purple Pipe: Tanja Ness and Joannah Clift

Jonas Hrebeniuk

GOING FOR THE 'RUGG-ED' LOOK EH? Joannah Clift (left) and Tanja Ness (right) didn't give the competition much to smile about last week, as the duo racked up a combined 42 points versus the Laurier Golden Hawks.

The Purple Pipe is usually awarded to an individual Mustangs athlete who exhibits exceptional athletic ability, but this week a pair of teammates share the honour.

Women’s rugby players Tanja Ness and Joannah Clift combined for 42 of Western’s 62 points last week against the Laurier Golden Hawks, showing no mercy against the competition.

The team appears to be on track to avenge their second place finish in Ontario University Athletics play last season.

The Gazette spoke with the tandem to discuss their upbringing, proudest accomplishments and Grey’s Anatomy.

How did you become interested in rugby in the first place?
NESS: My dad played when he was in high school and loved it. When I went to high school, I decided to try it out and I loved it as well.
CLIFT: In grade 10, I was at tryouts for my high school’s soccer team and a friend of mine almost forced me to go to rugby tryouts with her. Of course I went, and I’ve been playing ever since.

Which sports did you play as a child?
NESS: I was into gymnastics, dance, and figure skating when I was young. I did a 180 when I got to high school and played football, hockey and rugby.
CLIFT: My parents are big into sports so I have at some point played pretty much anything. Soccer, figure skating, tennis, anything.

Did your parents have any worries when you told them you wanted to play rugby?
NESS: Not really. I grew up on a farm and was a tomboy, so rugby seemed to fit my personality.
CLIFT: My mom was definitely hesitant at first, but my older sister played a few years before I started. So in my defence, if she played, so could I. My dad was pretty upset when I decided not to play soccer anymore, but I think everyone is happy with my decision now.

What do you rank as your most memorable rugby accomplishments?
NESS: My most memorable moment was pulling on a Canada Senior Women’s jersey for the first time. [I am] most proud when I teach a skill to the girls I coach and they implement it in the game.
CLIFT: In 2005, when I played for Canada’s U-19 team in Minnesota. I started in my first international match, we won the game and it was an amazing experience.

Last good movie you saw?
NESS: Transformers. One of my favourite shows growing up as well.
CLIFT: I think I’d have to say Harry Potter [and the Order of the Phoenix], to be honest.

Do you have a can’t-miss TV show each week?
NESS: I don’t watch a lot of TV. The girl’s rugby team usually gets together to watch Grey’s Anatomy though. I go for that.
CLIFT: Definitely Grey’s Anatomy. My roommates and I are counting the days until this season starts.

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