Vanier players attending Hong Kong Sevens

McLean, de Graaf with B.C. squad at prestigious tournament this week




Thousands of rugby players, supporters and enthusiasts are  flocking to Hong Kong this week to take in the 2012 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens event, one of the most renowned stops on the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series.

Among the many Canadians traveling this week are 10 members of the British Columbia Elite Youth Sevens (BCEY7’s) program who will be competing in the Standard Chartered Bank International Youth Sevens tournament. That lineup includes Jordan de Graaf and Gavin McLean, two products of G.P. Vanier Secondary School.

The 10 Under-18 men’s provincial players have all been a part of the BCEY7’s program, designed to create and deliver a development pathway for junior athletes who can develop skills to represent Canada with distinction at future World Cup tournaments and the Olympic Games. For those select 10 players, this will be the ultimate learning experience.

All of the players recently participated in the Las Vegas High School International Rugby Sevens in February, where British Columbia went undefeated to claim the 2012 championship. The select few, representing North and South Vancouver Island, North Vancouver, Vancouver West and the Fraser Valley, will now have a taste of what it means to be an international sevens player.

“Going on a tour like this is the reason we have the BCEY7’s program, to prepare players for representative and international rugby,” said BCEY7’s head coach Shane Thompson, a former national player and head coach of Canada’s men’s sevens team. “These guys will have the full experience of going to an international tournament where they will have to 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.”

International Youth Sevens

The BC U18 players will compete in the Youth Sevens tournament on March 22 before watching Canada and the world’s elite men’s sevens programs compete at the IRB Hong Kong Sevens, set to run March 23-25. The B.C. squad will also see the world’s top-ranked Canadian women’s sevens team in action as they look to retain their title at the IRB Challenge Cup.

The BC U18 players have a busy schedule. They trained with the Hong Kong Academy yesterday, will work out with the renowned international Penguins team on March 22 and will participate in a training session with the Canadian senior men’s national team.

For the Youth tournament, the British Columbia side is currently in Pool A of the U18 Men’s division, competing against Hong Kong-based club sides Flying Kukris-1 and DeA-2 Tigers RFC as well as the Bangkok Lions-1 out of Thailand. If B.C. were to advance to the Cup semifinals they would be up against a team from Pool B, which includes Singapore-based club DHL Ta’moko Lions, DeA-1 Tigers RFC, Bangkok Lions-2 and Flying Kukris-2.

The tournament will be played March 22 at King’s Park Sports Ground in Kowloon.

– B.C. Rugby Union





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