Shown here leading a clinic for young rugby players last fall, Kelly Russell is one of three CRFC players on the national women’s XV roster. (Citizen file)

Shown here leading a clinic for young rugby players last fall, Kelly Russell is one of three CRFC players on the national women’s XV roster. (Citizen file)

Local players named to national rugby teams

Recently named national rugby squads are loaded with players who boast connections to the Cowichan Valley.

The national U20 squad that will compete in the Junior World Rugby Trophy qualifying series is particularly tied to the Cowichan Valley with two locally born players and another who attended a Valley school, as well as a coach from a local school.

Duncan-born George Barton, a Shawnigan Lake School graduate who now plays in France for the Clermont rugby academy and made his debut with Canadian senior men’s side, headlines the U20 side as picked by head coach Jeff Williams, who also coaches at Shawnigan.

Also on the roster is Mill Bay’s William McDougall-Percillier, an 18-year-old Grade 12 student at Brentwood College who had previously suited up for Canada’s U18 side earlier this spring and earned the honour of being bumped up an age level. Brentwood grad Aaron Hersant, now with the UVic Vikes, has also been picked for the U20 roster.

Canada will face the U.S. in Edmonton on June 13 and 17, with the aggregate winner qualifying for the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Uruguay in August. The U.S. won last year’s qualifier 19-18. Canada qualified for the Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2015 and reached the final where they lost to Georgia. The winner of this year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy will qualify for the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship.

The senior national squad recently named by head coach Mark Anscombe also boasts four players with Cowichan Valley ties, including former Cowichan Rugby Football Club players Brett Beukeboom and Aaron Carpenter, and Shawnigan grads Guiseppe du Toit and Djustice Sears-Duru.

The senior side will face Georgia in Calgary on June 10 and Romania in Edmonton on June 17. After that, the squad will be trimmed from 32 men to 26 for the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying series with the U.S. Those games will be played in Hamilton on June 24 and San Diego on July 1.

Current CRFC stars Laura and Kelly Russell and Tyson Beukeboom have been picked by head coach Francois Ratier for the national senior women’s team that will face New Zealand in Wellington this Friday to open the International Women’s Rugby Series.

Kelly Russell, who won an Olympic bronze medal with the Canadian sevens team in Brazil last year, will captain the third-ranked Canadian XV team for the series.

The match will be streamed live on www.worldrugby.org at 10 p.m. Pacific Time.

The series is the final warmup before the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. It will continue with Canada playing England in Christchurch on June 13 and Australia in Rotorua on June 17.