BC Rugby has confirmed a total of 8 teams from the Elite Youth Sevens Program preparing to represent the province in the Las Vegas Invitational on Feb 28 – Mar 2. The Girls’ and Boys’ teams will depart for the tournament later today and join 126 other teams competing in the Nevada Desert.
The Las Vegas Invitational has been a regular event for teams from the BC Elite Youth Sevens over the years, as both an opportunity to introduce aspiring young players to a higher level of competition, as well as a platform for more established players to pit themselves against an array of high quality teams and academies from across North America and beyond.
BC will be represented in across four different divisions including U16 Boys’, U16 Girls’, High School Boys’ Open, and U18 Boys’ Elite. The girls and boys playing in BC colours have been selected from the Elite Youth Sevens Program which began with ID sessions in the Fall of 2018. In the last two months, both the Girls’ and Boys’ programs have held a number of training and selection camps, allowing Head Coaches Darcy Patterson and Adam Roberts to keenly observe the players as they develop.
Roberts has selected a total of six boys teams across the U16, U17 and U18 age-groups. This constitutes one of the largest quotas of boys’ teams that BC has sent to the tournament in recent years and is a marker of the hard work that has gone into growing the scale and appeal of the program.
Meanwhile, the Girls’ program is sending two U16 teams to the tournament, with Head Coach Darcy Patterson hoping to expose the athletes to a greater level of competition than they are used to. “This tournament will be a good measure of where our Provincial athletes are. The quality of athletes and skill development at the younger ages has grown tremendously, meaning the selections for this tour were very difficult. We will be looking towards experienced players like Halle Smith, Esita Qiodravu and Makenna Gayger to lead the younger girls in such a high-performance tournament”.
The Elite Youth Sevens Program is an important step for BC players hoping to make the leap up to National level programs. It also has a lasting effect on many athletes that participate during their careers, forging a connection and a particular identity. An example of this can be seen in the staff covering the Girls’ teams at this tournament, all of whom have previously been players in the Elite Youth Sevens Program. “To have a staff team that know what the players are going through could prove to be immensely helpful in forging positive relationships,” says Patterson. “To have them sharing their experience and giving something back is a testament of our BC programming”