Action photo courtesy of Judy Teasdale Photography
VANCOUVER - Richmond's Harjun Gill will captain British Columbia's provincial sevens rugby team next week as the program looks to defend its title at the Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong International Youth Sevens. Gill will lead 12 of BC's top Under-18 rugby players against local Hong Kong-based teams and rep sides from Thailand and Singapore.
A product of St. George's School and Richmond Rugby Football Club, Gill is now in his third year of competing with the BC Elite Youth Sevens, a program coached by former Canadian national team player and coach Shane Thompson. Gill has already represented his province in the sevens code on two trips to Las Vegas and competed at the 2012 Victoria International Sevens this past summer.
"Harjun and a number of players on this team were around when this program was just starting and he has definitely got a lot out of it," said Thompson. "It's been great to see him steadily improve over the last three years as he is certainly a stronger player and one of the most skilled in his age group."
A utility player capable of suiting up anywhere in the back line, Thompson says it's Gill's all-around ability that makes him such a unique player.
"He made the transition from 15s easily and is a smart player in both games," Thompson added. "He has the skills that are essential in both as he is one of our top kickers, ball distributors and defenders."
Gill has also excelled in the 15's code having lifted national championships with the BC U16 (2011) and U18 provincial teams (2012) and last spring was selected to Canada's Under-17national team.
The 18-year-old was a key member of BC's sevens team to finish as runner-ups at the Las Vegas High School Elite Sevens in February, with the team eventually falling to national side USA High School All-Americans. During a break in play at the senior men's international event, the two junior teams battled for the Cup title in front 20,000 plus fans at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"Like a lot of the guys on our team, I really don't think Harjun was phased by playing in front of that size of a crowd. He played well even though he was out of position and did a great job defensively," added Thompson. "He continues to be a great leader on and off the field and is one of the most coachable players in our program. He does well because he listens and takes what he learns onto the field where he is a play maker and understands how the game of sevens works."
Gill and the BC U18 team will have a packed itinerary that includes training sessions with the Hong Kong Rugby Academy, the world-renowned touring Penguins Sevens program and of course taking in the famed Hong Kong International Sevens, the world's most storied seven-a-side tournament.
Attending the senior men's international event as spectators will also provide BC's emerging players with the opportunity to see the Canadian men's national team in action. Canada has been on a roll on this year's circuit winning the Bowl in Wellington, New Zealand before capturing the Plate at this year's Las Vegas Sevens. Competing with Canada this year is Abbotsford's Justin Douglas, a recent graduate of Thompon's Elite Youth Sevens program who was selected for the Hong Kong (March 22-24) and Japan (March 30-31) stops on the Sevens World Series circuit.
"This tour is really important for our program because it mirrors how the national team travels when competing in the [International Rugby Board] Sevens World Series," said Thompson. "These guys will be traveling long distances in a short period of time and will have to experience what it's like to adjust to different time zones and prepare for an international tournament in a completely new surrounding. It's all part of the learning curve."
The Standard Chartered International Youth Sevens is scheduled for March 21st at King's Park Sports Ground.
BC U18 Sevens Roster:
1. Evan Cambridge (Castaway Wanderers / Oak Bay High School)
2. Joey Campbell (Abbotsford RFC / Sardis Secondary)
3. Shane Dagg (Bayside AA / South Delta Secondary)
4. Harjun Gill (Richmond RFC / St. George's School)
5. Cole Keffer (Capilano RFC / Sutherland Secondary)
6. Karsten Leitner (UBCOB Ravens / St. George's School)
7. Spencer Miller (Abbotsford RFC / Yale Secondary)
8. James Oswald (Capilano RFC / West Van High)
9. Theo Sauder (Vancouver Rowing Club / St. George's School)
10. Oliver Smith (Capilano RFC / Seycove Secondary School)
11. Peter Stockton (Kats RFC / St. George's School)
12. Tomasi Vataiki (Bayside AA / Earl Marriot Secondary)
Head Coach: Shane Thompson
Manager: Doug Tate
Physio: Gareth Adams
About the BCEY7s program
As a result of rugby sevens being included into the Olympic games for 2016 and 2020, the British Columbia Rugby Union created the Elite Youth Sevens program. The sevens academy is designed to help develop young athletes into the rugby players who will be best qualified to represent Canada with distinction at future Olympic Games and Rugby World Cups. The program is geared towards identifying, training and developing athletes who can go on to represent their Regions, their Province and Canada at Age Grade Level and beyond.