Abbotsford rugby talent is set to represent the province at a pair of big events starting next week.
BC Rugby recently announced its provincial teams for both the U18 and U17 boys rosters at the Western Canadian Championships in Winnipeg, with strong local flavour on both teams.
Abbotsford Rugby Football Club products George Piper, Matthew Turi and Ethan Turner will all be joining the BC U17 boys XV roster at the championships.
Piper and Turner were both part of the U16 team last year that reached the WCC finals.
As part of development and final selection, the team played three warmup matches against three English sides in Nottingham College, Magdalen College School, and St. Benedict’s.
Head coach Doug Branchflower said he feels good about his team heading into the event.
“We’re carrying one 18-year-old and one 17-year-old,” he said. “That puts at us a little bit of a disadvantage, but that age bracket is pretty large.
“We’ll perform well. We’re going to struggle against some of those teams, but I think our boys have matured. Alberta had a pretty good level at the U16 level, so they’ll probably be a challenge for us.”
BC opens on Aug. 9 against Saskatchewan and also plays Manitoba later that day. They square off against the BC U18’s and Alberta 1 on Aug. 11, and then finish off against Alberta 2 on Aug. 12.
The aforementioned BC U18 XV team is locally represented by ARFC’s Conor Paivarinta.
The team played five warmup games against opposition from the USA and Nottingham College, and hope to build on last year’s trip to the finals.
Head coach Aaron O’Flaherty said he’s confident in his group.
“Our main focus was to build a fundamental platform focusing on core skills and game awareness and I feel it has set us up really well leading into the Western Championships,” he stated.
“There’s a lot of up-and-coming talent within the regions so it made both myself and the other coaches’ decisions difficult, but it gives us great optimism for the future of rugby in BC.”
The U18s open against Manitoba and then Alberta 2 on Aug. 9, take on the BC U17s and Saskatchewan on Aug. 11 and close against Alberta 1 on Aug. 12.
For more on the teams, visit bcrugby.com.