|British Columbia Rugby – Victoria, BC – July 7, 2016: Youth Rugby 7s teams from Canada, the United States, New Zealand and England arrive in BC this week for one of the biggest annual tournaments of its kind in North America.
The Victoria International 7s Youth Rugby Tournament takes place Friday, July 8th and Saturday, July 9th, at the University of Victoria’s Wallace Field and Centennial Stadium [map].
Nearly 40 teams will be competing in the electrifying seven-a-side version of the sport of rugby in Under-18, Under-16 and Under-14 boys’ and girls’ divisions. The combination of speed, power and endurance required to excel in the 7s code provides these youth players with an exciting opportunity to showcase their skills, pace and athleticism. Admission is free for all spectators.
Rugby 7s is set to make its Olympic debut in just a few weeks at Rio2016, and the Victoria International 7s will feature several athletes who may one day represent Canada on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The Rugby Canada West Maple Leafs, with eight BC Rugby players named to the Team, will headline the Victoria International 7s Elite U18 Girls’ division. The Team will be led by local rugby phenom, Caroline Crossley, who has already represented Rugby Canada’s Senior Womens’ 7s Team on the World Rugby 7s Circuit. Her Oak Bay Secondary School teammate, Sophie de Goede, is also in the setup for the Maple Leafs.
The Victoria International 7s U18 Elite Boys’ division has a long history of being a proving-ground for future National 7s Team players, with tournament alumni Justin Douglas and Pat Kay having graduated to the World Rugby Sevens Circuit with Rugby Canada. The current generation of emerging talent at the tournament includes BC high school rugby stars Elias Ergas from Collingwood in West Vancouver, John Jubenvill from Earl Marriott in Surrey, and many more promising young athletes.
The BC Rugby Elite Youth 7s Teams claimed top spot in both the U18 Boys’ Elite and U18 Open Boys’ divisions last year, but will face even stiffer competition this time around with representative teams from California, Utah, Colorado, plus school teams Bedford and Durham from England, all vying for the title. The U16 and U14 Boys’ divisions notably feature the first-ever tournament entries from New Zealand, represented by Rangatahi Rugby Sevens.
“This tournament is bigger than ever this year, and we’re excited that so many great teams will be competing,” said BC Rugby Elite Youth 7s Coach, Shane Thompson, who is a key organizer of the tournament. “We started this tournament in 2011 knowing there was a need for youth rugby 7s events in this part of the world that our athletes could compete in. Each year more programs hear about the Victoria International 7s and want to be part of it. It should be a great tournament, and we’re excited to get going on Friday.”
The BC Rugby Elite Girls’ 7s Program made its world debut at the 2015 edition of the tournament, and has enjoyed a massive run of success since then, producing Championship winning teams at the Las Vegas Invitational 7s, Vancouver Rugby Festival and the Canadian U18 Rugby 7s Championship.
“I have been blown away by the enthusiasm of girls in our province for rugby 7s, and by the commitment shown from this group of athletes,” said BC Rugby Elite Girls’ 7s Coach, Darcy Patterson. “These players know that future National Team and Olympic Teams selections are real possibilities for players in the group, and they are putting in the work now to help them get closer to their dreams.”
There will also be a strong contingent of BC talent in this year’s tournament throughout the six different divisions, including boys’ and girls’ representative teams from Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and the Fraser Valley, in addition to the Thunder Aboriginal Rugby program.