Several rugby players from the Cowichan Valley are about to represent British Columbia at the U16 Western Championships in Kelowna this weekend.
B.C. will have five teams in the U16 tournament: three boys squads and two girls, playing against teams from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba over three days of competition.
The BC U16 Boys Gold XV will include Clayton Bergstrom of Duncan and Owen Player and Ryan Smith of Shawnigan Lake, while Oliver Clarke of Duncan will play for the BC U15 boys XV.
Shawnigan Lake School head coach Shannon Atkins will guide the BC U16 Girls XV, and Shawnigan’s Gerry Atkins will play for the team. Phoenix Skailes, also of Shawnigan Lake, will suit up for the BC U15 Girls XV.
Even more local players will take the pitch for provincial teams at the U18 Western Championships in Regina on Aug 1-4.
The BC U17 Girls XV will be loaded with Cowichan content, including Duncan’s Kaitlyn Crichton, Deanna Cvitanovich, Skye Koyote and Maxine O’Leary, and Shawnigan Lake School’s Gracie McAllister. Mia Eagar of Duncan and Chloe Storie-Soth of Cowichan Bay were also named as non-travelling reserves.
The BC U18 Girls XV will include Cowichan Rugby Football Club product Madison Jumeau, a recent graduate of the Rugby Canada Development Academy in Langford, with Shawnigan Lake School’s Kiara Stecko as a non-travelling reserve.
The BC U17 Boys XV features CRFC members Aidan Kirkham of Ladysmith and Justin Marinier of Duncan, and Shawnigan Lake School’s Malcolm Shields. The side will be coached by Doug Branchflower and Randy Barton.
Finally, the BC U18 Boys Blue XV will include Cowichan Bay’s Logan Kits, Mill Bay’s Matthew McDougall-Percillier, and Duncan’s Dylan Taylor.
The players were selected from training camps that took place at Shawnigan Lake School and UBC’s McGavin Rugby Centre. More than 250 players from across the province took part in the camps, where coaches identified the top athletes.
“This year’s BC Rugby Rep XV Team Selection Camps have been a real highlight for both players and coaches,” said BC Rugby growth and development manager (men and boys) Aaron Takel. “We engaged players across a multitude of different challenges and development sessions, working to expand their rugby horizons and forge strong bonds between teammates. It will be exciting to see how this culture, attitude and playing style translates onto the field at upcoming tournaments.”
This is the second year of the Western Canadian Championships. In 2018, B.C. teams won 14 of their 18 matches against other provinces, with both the U16 Boys Blue XV and U16 Girls XV going undefeated.