July 31. 2013, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – Two-time defending U18 national champions British Columbia have released their roster for the upcoming Rugby Canada, Canada National Festival set to be hosted at the University of British Columbia August 7-11.
The 25-player roster will be captained by second year player Harjun Gill of Richmond, BC.
Coaching tandem Jeff Williams and Ramses Langston will return for a third straight year as the program seeks a rare three-peat. The coaching staff held a final selection camp this past weekend at Shawnigan Lake School where they were able to fine tune their squad heading into the tournament.
“Our camp went really well and we had 30 guys in attendance,” said Williams. “We’ve been working a lot on our defence and putting in the hard yards and focusing on our tackling.”
Williams and Langston selected Harjun Gill to Captain this year’s squad, going with experience as the St. George’s School standout is one of the two returning players from last year’s roster. Returning to bolster the back line is fellow Saints speedster Karsten Leitner who had his fair share of lifting titles this season with the U19 UBCOB Ravens (club champions), St. George’s sevens (provincial champions) and the BC Elite Youth Sevens program (tournament champions in Hong Kong and Victoria). Both BC Rugby Academy players will be relied on heavily as the squad looks to defend their title on home soil and go undefeated for a third straight year.
“Harjun has very good vision on the field and remains calm under pressure around the park,” Williams said of the Richmond RFC product. “The players look to him for leadership and really respect him. Naming him captain was really an easy decision to make.”
The squad is one of the faster teams to be assembled at the U18 level according to Williams, who says opponents will learn pretty quickly that they like to play some high-tempo rugby.
Key players also include forwards Thomas Choi of Earl Marriott Secondary and BC U17 graduate Louis Retief of Sardis Secondary. Giusseppe du Toit of Shawnigan Lake School will be one to watch for his play-making abilities and tactical kicking, as will be speedy winger Theo Sauder (St. George’s) who was one of the fastest players on BC’s U16 national championship team in 2012.
Playing at home has its challenges Williams says, but the selection process of seeing the top talent in action at the club, high school and at the recent B2Gold Provincial Regional Championships has him convinced this squad is up to the task.
“There is some real parity in the U18 rugby competition this year with Quebec emerging as a top side, Ontario always posing a challenge and with Alberta proving to be a tough team,” Williams added.
BC’s opening match will be a repeat of the 2012 national final where they downed Alberta 40-16 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7th at 4:30pm. BC will also face Ontario and Newfoundland in the round-robin before the playoff rounds start on Saturday, August 10th.
For more information on the National Festival Championships including team rosters, schedules and news, visit www.nationalfestivalrugby.com
BC U18s (BC-1) Nationals Schedule
Wed. Aug 7th, 4:30pm – BC1 vs Alberta
Thurs. Aug 8th, 1:30pm – BC1 vs Ontario1
Fri. Aug 9th, 3:00pm – BC1 vs Newfoundland
Sat. Aug 10th: Playoff Rounds
Sun. Aug 11th: Placement Rounds
2012 Results at Nationals (Sherbrooke, Quebec)
BC 36-5 vs Ontario-2
BC 55-0 Newfoundland
BC 68-0 Manitoba
BC 27-0 Nova Scotia
SEMIFINALS BC 25-19 Ontario
NATIONAL FINAL BC 40-16 Alberta
BC U18 Men’s Provincial Team
Name (Club / School)
Ben Bethune (Capilano RFC / Rockridge)
Jonas Blomberg (Capilano RFC / West Van)
Luke Bradley (Port Alberni District Secondary)
Thomas Cheung (Meraloma Rugby Club / St. George’s)
Thomas Choi (Bayside AA / Earl Marriott)
Drew Coles (Bayside AA / Southridge)
Foster Dewitt (GP Vanier)
Guisseppe Du Toit (Shawnigan Lake School)
Harjun Gill (Richmond RFC / St. George’s School)
Spencer Gordon Miller (Abbotsford RFC / Yale Secondary)
Jason Hignell (Abbotsford RFC / Yale Secondary)
Nik Hildebrand (Cowichan Rugby Club / Shawnigan Lake School)
Tom Kanwischer (Capilano RFC / Handsworth)
Karsten Leitner (UBCOB Ravens / St. George’s School)
Cali Martinez (Bayside AA / Earl Marriott)
Chris Miles (Shawnigan Lake School)
Jack Rainer (Capilano RFC / Rockridge)
Judah Ratzlaff (Abbotsford RFC / Yale Secondary)
Louis Retief (Abbotsford RFC / Sardis Secondary)
Theo Sauder (Vancouver Rowing Club / St. George’s School)
Nathan Sawchuk (Yale Secondary)
Peter Stockton (Kats RFC / St. George’s School)
Morgan Tate (Castaway Wanderers RFC / Oak Bay High)
Jenner Teufel (Cowichan Rugby Club / Shawnigan Lake School)
Tomasi Vataiki (Bayside AA / Earl Marriott)
Head coach – Jeff Williams
Assistant coach – Rameses Langston
Manager – Shane Thompson
Athletic Therapist – Jenn McKinnon