Comox Valley athletes will play a prominent role in the B.C. U20 Women’s team at the Canadian Rugby Championship, July 14-19 in Markham, Ont.
BC Rugby announced the U20 Women’s and U19 Men’s Fifteens Teams that will competing at the event on July 6.
The BC Rugby U19 Men’s team will be aiming to win a fifth title in the last six years, while the BC Rugby U20 Women’s squad is looking to claim top spot in the country for the first time.
Selected to the 25-player U20 Women’s team are five locals: Adel Arndt (Comox Valley Kickers) from Merville, Chloe Baird-Titcomb (Comox Valley Kickers) from Hornby Island, Taya Gagnon (Vanier Towhees/Comox Valley Kickers) of Courtenay, Madison Gold (UBC Thunderbirds) from Merville and Lauren Sargent (Castaway Wanderers) from Courtenay.
As well, Vanier coach Ken Erikson is with the U19 Men’s squad.
BC Rugby notes both rosters feature a number of players who have previously been part of National Rugby Festival winning teams with BC Rugby at the U16 and U18 levels, in addition to several players who have represented Rugby Canada in U18 and U20 competitions.
“From our first meeting we talked about team values of required discipline, courage and respect to play the game that suits this team,” said BC Rugby U20 Women’s coach Dave Grisdale. “The message heading into the CRCs is to focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself.”
The BC Rugby U20 Women fielded a young team in 2015 and struggled at times against more established competition. This year’s side features a balance of newcomers, veterans and some of the rising stars of Canadian women’s university rugby.
“There are a lot of new faces in this squad, and through the short time we have been training, we have come together as a cohesive unit,” said BC Rugby U20 Women’s scrum-half Nicole Crowley from Victoria. “We will be looking to build off the base we have established over the past few weeks and continue to build towards each game. We obviously want to do well in Toronto, so sticking to the game plan and following the process will be key for us.”
The BC Rugby U19 Men captured the 2015 CRC title in dramatic fashion, as a potential championship-winning penalty kick from Ontario Blues’ fullback Andrew Coe was turned back by strong winds on the final play of the game. This year, the B.C. men know they will face another strong test from their rivals, with teams aiming to take down the reigning champs.
“This is a talented group of players who are fierce university rivals, but who have come together to represent B.C.,” said BC Rugby U19 Men’s coach Curry Hitchborn. “The core of this team won the U18 Nationals with BC Rugby as 16-year-olds, and players like Nick Frost, Liam Doll, Callum Botchar and Connor Sampson have gone on to play for Canada at the U20 level.
“We’ll have those guys on the team, plus players who have returned from overseas to compete for B.C., like Ben Scher, who has been studying in England, and Fraser Hurst, who has been playing in New Zealand. It should be a fun tournament.”
“During training the atmosphere was light, but still serious,” said UVic Vikes’ and BC Rugby U19 Men’s team fullback Noah Bain. “Most of the team has been playing together for a couple years now, and coaches Curry (Hitchborn) and Ken (Erikson) trust us, so we’ve clicked well quite quickly. We have high expectations to do well in Toronto and we know that we can fulfil them.”
U20 Women’s schedule: July 14 – BC Rugby vs. Rugby Ontario – 6 p.m. ET; July 15 – BC Rugby vs. Prairie Wolf Pack – 2 p.m. ET; July 16 – BC Rugby vs. Nova Scotia Keltics – 12 p.m. ET; July 18 – semifinals; July 19 – final.
U19 Men’s schedule: July 15 – BC Rugby vs. Voyageurs – 4 p.m. ET; July 16 – BC Rugby vs. Rugby Ontario – 6 p.m. ET; July 17 – BC Rugby vs. Atlantic Rock – 2 p.m. ET; July 19 – BC Rugby vs. Prairie Wolf Pack 10 a.m. ET.
LINE OUTS The Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) is the highest level domestic competition for age-grade men’s and women’s fifteens rugby in Canada … the Men’s U19 CRC is contested by provincial representatives from two provincial rugby unions and three regional teams: BC Rugby, Rugby Ontario, the Prairie Wolf Pack, the Atlantic Rock, and the Voyageurs … the Women’s U20 CRC is contested by BC Rugby, Rugby Ontario, the Nova Scotia Keltics and the Prairie Wolf Pack … live streaming details are to be announced …scores and updates will be posted to the CRC website – canadianrugbychampionship.com.