Sports

Abbotsford rugby stars off to Vegas

The first ever B.C. under-18 women's seven-a-side team boasts a distinct Abbotsford flavour.

Five athletes with local connections have been named to the 12-player provincial squad, which will participate in the 2013 Las Vegas International Sevens, Feb. 7-9.

Local high schoolers Sophia DeGianni (Yale), Gurpreet Dhaliwal (Abbotsford Senior) and Autumn Garrett (Robert Bateman) will be joined on the squad by Abbotsford Rugby Football Club players Chelsea and Mackenzie Fowler out of Mission's Heritage Park Secondary. All five players were part of the Fraser Valley U17 teams which finished first and second at the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey in July.

A sixth Abbotsford athlete, Morgan Walker, has been named a non-traveling reserve.

B.C.'s provincial boys sevens teams have fared well at the Las Vegas Invitational, winning the elite and high school divisions in 2012. This is the inaugural year for the women's program, however, and with the recent hire of BC Rugby girls youth development officer Marlene Donaldson, further emphasis is being placed on seeing both programs provided with opportunities to compete.

"This team was selected from over 45 athletes who attended the trial camps," Donaldson said. "The selections reflect the strength of club and high school girls programs in Cowichan and the Fraser Valley."

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