B.C. teams loaded with Valley talent

BC Rugby’s teams at the 2017 Canadian Rugby Championships in Calgary this week are being bolstered by a strong Cowichan Valley presence.

Six teams from B.C are competing in the boys and girls age grade tournaments, and each squad includes at least two players who have played for the Cowichan Rugby Football Club, Cowichan Secondary School, Brentwood College School and/or Shawnigan Lake School.

That includes members of the provincial U17 boys and girls teams who are playing against older players from other provinces in the U18 tournament, and the B.C. U5 boys side, which is entered in the U16 competition.

“This decision is born from BC Rugby’s desire to seek out challenging and valuable competitions to ensure optimum athlete development,” a release from BC Rugby explained. “These young teams are expected to meet this challenge with maturity and determination.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our age grade talent to step up and be counted,” said Dean Murten, BC Rugby’s senior manager for rugby growth and development. “We are making a concerted effort to improve development within the BC Rugby Rep Team program and hope that the players will really gain something from the tournament.”

A major part of the selection process for the provincial teams at the CRC was the Provincial Regional Championships, where the North Island Tsunami won gold in the U16 boys division, leading to the selection of 11 players with Cowichan connections on the three B.C. teams competing at that level.

The U16A team includes team captain Nathan Goliath (Shawnigan), as well as Ciaran Breen (Shawnigan/CRFC), Matt McDougall-Percillier (Brentwood/CRFC), Nick Joe (Ladysmith/CRFC), Jacob Bossi (Brentwood/CRFC) and Brenner Kelava (Shawnigan/CRFC). Blake Cleasby (Brentwood/CRFC), Joel Cook (Brentwood/CRFC) and Logan Kits (Cowichan Secondary) are on the U16 B team, and Jamin Hodgkins (Shawnigan/CRFC) and Aidan Kirkham (Ladysmith/CRFC) are on the U15 roster.

The U17 boys side includes Owen Cumming (Shawnigan/CRFC), Zephyr Melnyk (Nanaimo District/CRFC) and Reece Tudor-Jones (Shawnigan/CRFC); the U17 girls team includes Hazel Bice (Shawnigan) and Taylynn Smid (Cowichan Secondary); and the U16 girls squad includes Mikayla Brennan-McCann (Shawnigan/CRFC) and Samantha Lillywhite (Shawnigan).

With U17 teams playing in the national U18 championships, BC Rugby’s U18 sides are on a tour to Ireland this month. Shawnigan grad Harrison Hooke and Brentwood alumna Natalie Moreland, are taking part in that tour.