Five junior members of the Comox Valley Kickers rugby club were on the move last week as they climbed into the upper echelons of the rugby world.
Last Wednesday, Connor Willis and Ben Marsh travelled to Shawnigan Lake School to play for the Vancouver Island Select team. Captained by Willis, the Selects surprised the Canada U-17 “B” team 17-14. Willis, leading his team from the centre position, had a strong game featuring some tackle-breaking, powerhouse runs that set up tries for his outside backs.
Marsh, who played for the North Island Tsunami last season, showed well in his first foray into the higher levels of provincial rugby and didn’t look at all out of place playing in company with, and against, Canada’s best in his age group.
Because of his strong performance in this game, it is likely that Willis will win a place on the Canada U-17 team that will tour England this spring.
“The Canada coach, Jim Delaney, came over to me after the game and congratulated me for having a good game,” said Willis, who toured with Canada’s U-17 team to California over Christmas. “That has to be a positive sign.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Smith had been slated to play in Wednesday’s game but instead received a call to pack his bags to travel to Las Vegas this past weekend where he joined Kicker club mate Gavin McLean on the B.C. U-17 Sevens team. The Vanier lads were competing in the desert in a host of Sevens competitions surrounding the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens series event being held in Las Vegas on the weekend.
While in Vegas, Smith and McLean may well have played against fellow Kicker Kieran McCaulay, who had been invited to play for the Dog River Howlers U-18 team, an ‘invitation only’ select rugby team from Regina, Saskatchewan promoted by rugby impresario Karl Fix.
The Howlers take their name from the CTV’s Corner Gas comedy show and tour the world – to places such as Cuba and Russia – spreading the rugby gospel. This is the first time the Howlers have fielded a U-18 team so McCauley will be making a bit of rugby history.
Howlers’ Sevens coach Robbie MacDowell spotted McCaulay while conducting a Sevens coaching clinic and invited the Vanier school player on the all expenses paid trip.
As these Comox Valley junior Kickers will attest, rugby is a game that takes you places!