Langford, BC – May 13, 2019: The BC Selects U18 girl’s rugby team put on an impressive display at the NextGen Langford Sevens tournament last weekend. BC Rugby and Canada Sevens collaborated with tournament organizers Rugby Canada, who held the developmental event as part of a push to identify and develop future Canadian internationals ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The event was held during the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens event in Langford, and games played during days two and three of the tournament took place at Westhills Stadium in between Women’s Sevens international matches.
After going 1-2 in pool play, the BC team lost a tight semifinal match to Rugby Canada Development Academy’s West team, which featured Victoria’s Sierra Gillis, Maelle Reed Maliyah Colombe and Zoe Williams alongside other players from Western Canada. The BC side pushed the RCDA to the final seconds of the game, opening the scoring via a Kira Peary try. Chloe Storie Soth was able to score in the 2nd half with a strong run and Hunter Czeppel touched down in the endzone after supporting a strong run by Delaney Aikens. BC held the lead into the final minute, but a last-gasp score from the RCDA side handed them the 19-17 win.
Despite the last-minute loss, the Selects were spurred on by their fantastic performance against the RCDA west side and put out an even more impressive performance in the third-place match against USA Girl’s High School All-Americans. Kira Katan opened the scoring in the first 45 seconds and BC had scored again before the end of the 2nd minute. GHSAA fought back with two back-to-back scores of their own before halftime, but the second half was all BC. Delaney Aikens put in a shift scoring twice and great defensive tackles by Summer Blackmore prevented the Americans from getting back into the tie. Nico Vinnedge put the final score on the board as the BC side came away with a 29-12 victory.
“This tournament was amazing and to see the level of play at this age is inspiring and exciting,” said Rugby Development Officer and head coach Darcy Patterson. “Getting to see the two Rugby Canada Academies on the field has given our Provincial Program a push to review and do better but has also showed a strong foundation that has been built by players and coaches over the last 4 years. To be able to compete at this level when our players aren’t training daily is amazing, and kudos to these athletes who rose to the occasion and competed.”
BC Rugby has worked closely with the RCDA’s Adam Kleeberger and Charlotte Haley to build the level of play across the Province of BC and expose high-level 7s to over 50 U18 athletes this year. Kleeberger is a former Canadian international who played for White Rock’s Bayside RFC and the University of Victoria Vikes, and Haley is on the coaching staff of BC’s Senior Women’s XVs.
“The NextGen tournament gives young Canadian women with the aspiration of being Olympians an experience that is vital – not only to their ability to make the national team, but to make the team better,” said Kleeberger. “Competing against the best players within Canada is necessary, but when we bring in other nations it forces a paradigm shift of what is possible from skills and abilities, to physicality, and game understanding. The RCDA has been fortunate to have prospered this year in large part thanks to the engagement of other programs from across the country to coordinate training sessions, tournaments, and series competitions.”
Patterson congratulated the RCDA side on their impressive tournament win, and added that “the time and effort they put in on a daily basis should be recognized.”