Vancouver, BC: Fresh off of an undefeated championship run at the Las Vegas International High School Rugby Sevens, the BC Elite Youth Sevens program has released their 10-man roster destined for Hong Kong to compete in the Standard Chartered Bank International Youth Sevens. Local Abbotsford club members Jorden Best (Bateman grade 12 student, featured in picture) and Spencer Miller (Yale grade 11 student) have both been selected to the team.
This will be the first time in recent history that a Canadian provincial side has sent a rugby sevens team to Hong Kong, home to the most renowned tournament on the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series circuit. The Under-18 provincial sevens side draws on players from several regions in British Columbia including North and South Vancouver Island, North Vancouver, Vancouver West and the Fraser Valley.
"Going on a tour like this is the reason we have the BCEY7s program, to prepare players for representative and international rugby," said BCEY7s head coach Shane Thompson. "These guys will have the full experience of going to an international tournament where they will have adjust to a new time zone, battle jet-lag and dehydration, recover from travel and adjust to different foods and a new culture. There aren't very many opportunities like these for our young age grade players and this will give them a true taste of what it's like to be an international sevens player."
The BC U18 players will compete in the Youth 7s tournament on March 22nd, before watching Canada and the world's elite sevens programs compete a the IRB Hong Kong Sevens, set to run March 23-25.
"We are hoping that having these players compete at these sevens events and then watching the top international level will get our next generation of players hooked on the sport," Thompson added. "Most of these guys are only a couple years away from playing at that next level and we have to show them what the next step is. It's important to make sure these guys see how they are progressing and that they can make that jump if they put the work in."
The BC roster headed to Hong Kong will feature a number of standouts that have excelled in both the BC Elite Youth 7s program as well as the BC Rugby Academy.
The North Vancouver Island region will be represented by Jordan De Graaf and Gavin McLean, two products of Comox Valley's G.P. Vanier. De Graaf is coming off an outstanding tournament in Las Vegas, where his speed and play making abilities helped BC to victories over Ontario and the USA All-Americans.
"Jordan is an electric player and he definitely has the x-factor," said Thompson. "He played within the team structure in Vegas and was unselfish in his play-making. He is quickly proving himself as one of the best players in the province."
Four players have formed the nucleus of the BCEY7s program since its inception 18 months ago, and the quartet recently represented Canada at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Isle of Man this past September.
The foursome includes Abbotsford's Jorden Best (Abbotsford RFC), North Vancouver's Nathan Yanagiya (Capilano RFC), Victoria's Fergus Hall (Castaway Wanderers RFC) and Trail's Haydn Evans (Cowichan Rugby Club).
South Surrey's Bayside Sharks RFC will be well represented on tour with Robert Devaney and Ian McMaster also selected. Two standouts from the BC-2 squad who recently captured the Plate in Las Vegas, Spencer Miller (Abbotsford RFC) and Averon 'Avi' Horwitz (Shawnigan Lake School) are also headed for Hong Kong.
For more information on the Hong Kong Sevens visit www.hksevens.com
BC Elite Youth Sevens - Hong Kong Roster:
Name (Region/ Club/ High School)
1. Jorden Best (Valley East/ Abbotsford RFC/ Robert Bateman)
2. Jordan De Graaf (North Island/ GP Vanier)
3. Robert Devaney (Valley West/ Bayside RFC/ Earl Marriott)
4. Haydn Evans (South Island/ Cowichan Rugby Club/ Shawnigan Lake School)
5. Fergus Hall (South Island/ Castaway Wanderers/ Glenlyon Norfolk)
6. Averon Horwitz (Vancouver West/ Shawnigan Lake School)
7. Gavin McLean (North Island/ GP Vanier)
8. Ian McMaster (Valley West/ Bayside RFC/ Earl Marriott)
9. Spencer Miller (Valley East/ Abbotsford RFC/ Yale Secondary)
10. Nathan Yanagiya (Vancouver North/ Capilano RFC/ Carson Graham)
Head Coach: Shane Thompson
Manager: Doug Tate
Physio: Gareth Adams