Vancouver, BC – October 23, 2018: It was a fantastic start to the BC Elite Youth Sevens Identification Sessions this past weekend. The weather could not have been more favourable to help with selection and attendance was high for both boys’ and girls’ programs. Program heads Adam Roberts and Darcy Patterson were on hand at the respective sessions, supported by additional coaching staff.
The sessions kicked off with a Lower Mainland camp for the boys’ program, held at Fortius Sport & Health in Burnaby on October 19th. A total of 44 boys from across the region attended this first session, with an impressive 18 High Schools represented. The attendees were tested on the 40m sprint and the V02 max test the Bronco. Jacob Bourne of St. Georges won the Bronco in a time of 4:28 and Max Brightman of St. Georges won the fastest spring in 5.28s.
Later that same day, the girls’ program kicked off their ID process with a session at Exhibition Park in Kamloops. Around 70 young athletes were in attendance, many of them travelling to the area to take part in the Kamloops Sevens Tournament that same weekend. The girls were tested on the 40m sprint, Broad Jump and Run-Catch-Pass drills in the late evening sun. “I was impressed with the dedication the girls showed, particularly the day before such a big tournament,” said Girls’ Program Head, Darcy Patterson. “It was great to see the girls pushing themselves, as well as being able to show the sort of benchmarks that we expect on something like the Elite Youth Sevens Program.”
On the morning of Saturday, October 20, the boys’ program held their second ID session at McArthur Island Park in Kamloops. Despite some frosty conditions in the early morning, 54 eager athletes were present at 9:00am for the 40m sprint test which was won by Dylan Killian of Kelowna Secondary with a time of 5.13s. With the Kamloops Sevens Tournament being held at the same venue that weekend, staff from both programs took the opportunity to further identify potential talent by watching Boys’ and Girls’ Division matches as they unfolded over the two days.
Newly appointed Boys’ Program Head, Adam Roberts, was encouraged with what he saw at these first few sessions, stating “With only a few days on the job, it is clear that there are already many positives developing throughout the province of BC. The interior of BC has really jumped on board with grassroots rugby. The TORA (Thompson Okanagan Rugby Alliance) program, in particular, have done a fantastic job of building a brand in the interior.”
Looking to the future, Roberts sees the potential for development to benefit both the EY7s boys’ program as well as supporting bays’ club rugby in the Province. “I am going to work on building a Rugby Sevens league that would run for 4 weekends in the Fall each season”, Roberts commented. “This league would act as a springboard for Boys’ Club XV’s later in the Fall, similar to the current format followed by Girls’ Club Rugby. We would look to have the Rugby Sevens events spread across the province, from Island to Interior and really generate a festival atmosphere and a buzz amongst the players.”
“We know that a number of clubs have been struggling in the Fall with numbers in their male youth teams. Given the transferable skills from Sevens to XVs, coupled with the reduced demand for raw numbers at the start of the season, this approach would hopefully have a number of benefits. It would reduce the pressure on our clubs to form full XVs teams so early in the season, encourage a better transition from Mini Rugby into the Junior Age-Grades, maintain a high level of time-on-ball for all players and integrate Rugby Sevens (and by extension the EY7s Program) into the player pathway for these young athletes.”
The Girls’ Age-Grade Fall program in BC has been following this same set-up for the last three years, yielding positive results. The Kamloops Sevens Tournament is a shining example of this, with 50 of the 60 competing teams playing in the female divisions. Feedback from clubs has been broadly positive, with the Sevens season acting as a great introduction to the sport for many younger players. Mid-way through the Fall season, the Age-Grade Girls’ Rugby then transitions into XVs (or variations thereof) which then builds towards the season-ending Age-Grade Club Finals.
Returning to this season, there are plenty of opportunities remaining for athletes who would like to try out for the Boys’ and Girls’ Elite Youth Sevens Programs. Roberts was keen to reiterate a key message from this season, stating “If you have an athlete at your school that has flown under the radar, please feel free to send me a nomination on their behalf. This is an ideal program for non-rugby athletes to get involved with and we are keen to see kids from other sports showing us their pace, power and agility.” Check out the program webpage for more information on dates and how to register.