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.