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by Andrew Smith

January 9, 2014, VANCOUVER, BC (ISN) – Head Coach of the BC Elite Youth Sevens program Shane Thompson has announced his traveling roster of 36 players headed to Las Vegas for the USA Sevens High School Invitational on January 22nd.

This will be the first major tournament of the 2014 season for the program, geared towards identifying and developing players who will be best qualified to represent Canada with distinction at future Olympic Games and World Cup tournaments. 

Thompson’s roster for Vegas features 10 returning players who competed in the 2013 competition where the program advanced to the finals of both the Elite and Open divisions. BC had previously been champions of both divisions having gone undefeated in 2012. Thompson will enter two teams into this year’s Elites and one under-17 side into the Open division. 

The 2014 High School Elite competition features defending champions High School All Americans, provincial reps Ontario and regional rep sides from Toronto, Oakville (Upright Rugby Academy), Washington, Northern California and the Atlantic region (Atlantis). BC-1 has been pooled with arch rivals Ontario and All-Americans 2 and will need to finish in the top two to advance to the semifinal rounds. 

“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” said Thompson who will be coaching in Vegas for the fourth straight year. “Teams in the tournament are more organized and are getting better every year. We can’t think about what we’ve achieved in the past and have lots of work to do if we hope to make it to the final again.” 

Thompson will be relying on a number of core veterans in returning players Cole Keffer (North Vancouver), Theo Sauder (Vancouver) and George Barton (Duncan). Sauder caught the eye of national team selectors during the 2013 campaign and featured for the Canada Maple Leafs development roster this past Fall. Keffer was a member of the BCEY7s gold medal winning teams in Hong Kong and Victoria with Sauder, while Barton was a standout with BC’s U16 provincial team going undefeated at the 2013 National Festival Championships. 

Returning Abbotsford product Jason Hignell will add a physical presence to the team and will be relied on for his work at the break down and ball poaching abilities. A new player looking to make his mark is Vancouver’s Phil Berna who caught the eye of provincial selectors at the final selection camp in early January. 

“Phil is a guy that can make a big impact and he showed in the trials that he has the ability to score tries,” said Thompson. “With guys leading through their experience and some of the new talent in the squad, we have the makings of a very good team.” 

Keeping an eye on development, Thompson will again be fielding a number of U17 players in this year’s tournament. The youngsters coming through the system have plenty of potential and will be looking to improve on last year’s runner-up performance. 

“The younger guys have some real speed,” Thompson added. “Our youngest guy on tour is Elias Ergas (Vancouver) who is technically a U16 player. He showed well during the trial and showed that he can perform against older opposition. We are also taking Kamloops’ Nick Gamracy who has really shown well and been committed to attending all the trials. It’s great to see someone like him who puts in the work and effort to make the team and to see it pay off.” 

The BC Elite Youth Sevens squads will be departing for Las Vegas on Wednesday January 22nd. The Las Vegas High School Invitational ‘Open’ will run Thursday and Friday, while the Elite division will run Friday and Saturday. The players will then be cheering on the senior men’s national team at Sam Boyd Stadium when they take in the USA Sevens, an official stop on the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series circuit. 

For more information on the Las Vegas High School Invitational Sevens visit www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational

U18 Elite Pool A: 

  • BCEY7s-1, High School All Americans-2, Upright Rugby Rogues, Ontario Blues, Washington Loggers

U18 Elite Pool B: 

  • BCEY7s-2, High School All-Americans-1, Atlantis, Toronto Rugby, NorCal All Stars 

Open Division Pools TBC 

BCEY7s Roster – U18s  (Born in 1996):

  • Philip Berna (St. George’s School / UBCOB Ravens / Vancouver, BC)
  • Tyler Beselt (Shawnigan Lake School / Cowican Rugby Club / Shawnigan, BC)
  • Joseph Carter (Lord Tweedsmuir / Bayside AA / Cloverdale, BC) 
  • Trevor Caton (GP Vanier / Courtenay, BC) 
  • *Nick Collet (Southridge / Bayside AA / Surrey, BC) 
  • *Nico Docolas (Elgin Park Secondary / Bayside AA / South Surrey, BC) 
  • Marshall Fremlin (Shawnigan Lake School / 100 Mile House, BC) 
  • Matt Gallagher (Semiahmoo / Bayside AA / South Surrey, BC) 
  • *Michael Henderson (Shawnigan Lake School / Cowichan Rugby Club / Duncan, BC) 
  • *Jason Hignell (Yale Secondary / Abbotsford RFC / Abbotsford, BC) 
  • Noah Jensen (Robert Bateman / Abbotsford RFC / Abbotsford, BC) 
  • *Cole Keffer  (Sutherland Secondary / Capilano RFC / North Vancouver, BC) 
  • *Marc Levin (St. George’s School / Vancouver Rowing Club / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Cathal Long (St. George’s School / Trinidad) 
  • *Cali Martinez (Earl Marriott / Bayside AA / White Rock, BC) 
  • *Jack Nyren (Oak Bay / Castaway Wanderers RFC / Victoria, BC) 
  • Andrew O’Connor (Elgin Park Secondary / Bayside AA / Surrey, BC) 
  • Gino Paoleloa (DW Poppy High School / Bayside AA / Langley, BC) 
  • Gavin Rowell (Robert Bateman / Bayside AA / Langley, BC) 
  • *Theo Sauder (St. George’s School / Vancouver Rowing Club / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Nick Van der Goes (DW Poppy High School / Bayside AA / Langley, BC) 
  • Wesley Wong (Shawnigan Lake School / Hong Kong) 

*Competed at 2013 Vegas Invitational  

BCEY7s Roster – U17s (Born in 1997)

  • Noah Bain (Yale Secondary / Abbotsford RFC / Abbotsford, BC)
  • *George Barton (Shawnigan Lake School / Cowichan Rugby Club / Duncan, BC)
  • Niko Blomberg (West Van Secondary / Capilano RFC / Bowen Island, BC) 
  • Jayden Bloom (St. George’s School / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Callum Botchar (Magee Secondary / UBCOB Ravens / Ottawa, ON) 
  • Elias Ergas (Collingwood School / Capilano RFC / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Nick Gamracy (South Kamloops Secondary / Kamloops Rugby Club / Kamloops, BC)
  • Ryan Gray (Mulgrave / Capilano RFC / Sydney, Australia) 
  • Aaron Hersant (Brentwood College / Victoria, BC) 
  • Keenan Houde (Earl Marriott / Bayside AA / White Rock) 
  • Fraser Hurst (St. George’s School / Vancouver Rowing Club / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Liam Mahon (West Van Secondary / Capilano RFC / West Vancouver, BC) 
  • Ben Scher (St. George’s School / Vancouver Rowing Club / Vancouver, BC) 
  • Miller Thind (Ridge Meadows Bruins / Pitt Meadows, BC) 

Team Staff

  • Head Coach – Shane Thompson 
  • Coach – Winston Stanley 
  • Coach – Mike Jamieson  
  • Coach / Manager – Roger Robinson 
  • Manager / Communications – Andrew Smith 
  • Physio / A.Therapist – Chris May