Abbotsford rugby stars shine in Vegas

Abbotsford rugby athletes were front and centre in Las Vegas last week, helping provincial and national sevens teams excel.

B.C.'s U18 girls rugby sevens team won the Las Vegas High School Invitational in Las Vegas last week.

B.C.'s U18 girls rugby sevens team won the Las Vegas High School Invitational in Las Vegas last week.

Abbotsford rugby athletes were front and centre in Las Vegas last week, helping provincial and national sevens teams excel at a major tournament.

• The B.C. under-18 women’s squad emerged victorious at the Las Vegas High School Invitational Sevens, with key contributions from Bateman T-Wolves teammates Lauren Kerr (team captain) and Sophia Belsher, and Nakisa Levale of the Abby Senior Panthers. The provincial team lost just one match in the tourney, falling 32-10 to American invitational side Atlantis during pool play, but battled their way to the final where they exacted a measure of revenge with a 32-10 win over Atlantis.

• B.C.’s U18 boys contingent featured three locals – Noah Jensen and Gavin Rowell of Bateman, and Jason Hignell of Yale Secondary. The players were divided into two teams, BC-Gold and BC-Blue, and the Gold team battled its way the final of the high school elite division, where they dropped a 19-14 decision to the U.S. high school all-Americans. The Blue team finished 2-2 in the round robin and ended up losing in the Plate consolation final.

• The B.C. U17 team, featuring Yale’s Noah Bain, made it to the semifinals of the high school open division, but were eliminated with a 17-12 loss to the eventual division champs from Utah.

• Bateman grad Justin Douglas, a member of the Canadian senior national men’s sevens squad, helped Team Canada to a third-place result in Vegas, the program’s best-ever finish at an IRB World Series event.

Canada lost 26-7 to New Zealand in the semifinals, and fell behind Samoa 19-0 in the bronze medal game. But the team staged an epic rally, scoring 22 unanswered points en route to victory. Douglas started both games.