Samantha Lillywhite and Mikayla Brennan-McCann display their silver medals from the 2017 Canadian Rugby Championships. Both girls are headed to Vegas with BC Elite Youth Sevens teams this week. (Citizen file)

B.C. sending three youth rugby teams to Vegas Sevens

Players from across province recruited for elite sides

Rugby players from throughout the province are headed to Las Vegas this week for the USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational.

The three BC Elite teams — boys, U18 girls and U16 girls — are expecting tough competition at the highly regarded tournament.

“The American teams, already highly athletic, have made significant gains in tactics and game understanding in the last four years which will put the team under pressure,” said B.C. boys head coach Tony LaCarte, who is hoping for a top-three finish after placing fifth in the Boys High School Elite Division last year. “Our aim with our BCEY7s team is to expose them to a high-performance Rugby Sevens environment and see who can step up to play at this level.”

The B.C. boys roster includes Brock McCartney (Abbotsford), Brady Smith (Surrey), Daniel Damron (White Rock), Izzak Kelly (White Rock), Johnny Sutherland (Surrey), Joshua Elbourne (Victoria), Matt McDougall-Percillier (Mill Bay), Nathan Holm (West Vancouver), Thomas Kirkwood (Vancouver), Tom Abercrombie (Victoria), Tyler Buchanan (White Rock), Siôn Griffiths (Mill Bay), Siaki Seumanutafa (Surrey) and Zephyr Melnyk (Gabriola Island).

Both B.C. girls teams will feature lots of new talent, something program head and U18 coach Darcy Patterson is excited to see.

“It will be a good marker of the depth in our province, as well as a great experience for this group to showcase all they have been working on,” Patterson said.

The U18 girls roster will consist of Kashish Arya (Abbotsford), Tayler Bailey (Abbotsford), Madison Blusson (Williams Lake), Brittany Gardiner (Victoria), Amelia Gordon (Victoria), Callie Harder (Lillooet), MJ Jumeau (Duncan), Emily Meier Abbotsford) Jordyn Myers (Abbotsford), Ella O’Regan (Victoria), Maelle Reed (Victoria) and Rachel Smith (White Rock). Kelsey White (Victoria) and Alancia Jefferey (Abbotsford) are non-travelling reserves.

The U16 girls roster includes Halle Smith (Kamloops), Caleigh Silversides (Kamloops), Esita Quiodravu (Kamloops), Cassie Hul (Abbotsford), Niki Duchesne (White Rock), Samantha Lillywhite (Shawnigan Lake), Mikayla Brennan-McCann (Shawnigan Lake), Mia Eagar (Duncan), Madison Makara (Abbotsford), Sierra Gillis (Victoria), Libby Hogg (Victoria) and Sarah Meier (Abbotsford). Kira Peary (Abbotsford), Chloe Hill Huse (Victoria) and Jade Meldrum (Williams Lake) are non-travelling reserves.

All three B.C. teams leave for Vegas on Wednesday for the tournament, with games taking place on March 1-3. Visit bcrugby.com or usasevens.com for more information.

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