Several Cowichan Valley-based rugby players are among more than three dozen from across the province on BC Elite Youth Sevens teams bound for the Las Vegas Invitational this week.
The three BC Elite teams — boys, U18 girls and U16 girls — are expecting tough competition at the highly regarded tournament.
“The American teams, already highly athletic, have made significant gains in tactics and game understanding in the last four years which will put the team under pressure,” said B.C. boys head coach Tony LaCarte, who is hoping for a top-three finish after placing fifth in the Boys High School Elite Division last year. “Our aim with our BCEY7s team is to expose them to a high-performance Rugby Sevens environment and see who can step up to play at this level.”
Local representation on the boys team will come from Matt McDougall-Percillier, Siôn Griffiths and Zephyr Melnyk. McDougall-Percillier and Griffiths both call Mill Bay home, attend Brentwood College School and play for the Cowichan Rugby Football Club. Melnyk also plays for the CRFC, but lives on Gabriola Island and attends Nanaimo District Secondary.
Both B.C. girls teams will feature lots of new talent, something program head and U18 coach Darcy Patterson is excited to see.
“It will be a good marker of the depth in our province, as well as a great experience for this group to showcase all they have been working on,” Patterson said.
The U18 girls side will include Valley products MJ Jumeau (Cowichan Secondary/CRFC), and the U16 squad will include Mia Eagar (Cowichan Secondary/CRFC), and Mikayla Brennan-McCann and Samantha Lillywhite (both Shawnigan Lake School/CRFC).
All three B.C. teams leave for Vegas on Wednesday for the tournament, with games taking place on March 1-3. Visit bcrugby.com or usasevens.com for more information.