Brentwood set to defend B.C. girls’ rugby title

The 16-team B.C. championship begins Friday at Royal Athletic Park and Vic High at 9 a.m., running all day. Much of the second day action swings into Westhills Stadium in Langford with the girls playing in front of an expected 3,000 fans in between games of the World Series Canada Sevens tournament, featuring most of the Rio Olympic-bound teams. The high school Shield final will be at 11 a.m., Bowl final at 1:12 p.m., Plate final at 1:32 p.m., bronze-medal game at 4:04 p.m. and championship game at 4:24 p.m. on Saturday at Westhills.

“What a fantastic atmosphere for these kids,” said Marius Felix, the former capped international for Canada, who coaches defending champion and top-ranked Brentwood College.

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“What has made high school sevens grow is the global spotlight given the game with its debut upcoming in the Rio Olympics. And the Canadian women being among the best in the world has been a huge help.”

Now these high school girls will be playing on the same pitch Saturday as the Olympians.

Brentwood College goes in as the team to beat, with Lake City Secondary from Williams Lake ranked No. 2 and Cowichan No. 3. Other Island teams are Belmont at No. 7, Edward Milne at No. 8, G.P. Vanier at No. 11 and Oak Bay at No. 15.

“We have a couple of electric players,” said Felix.

Among them are several returnees from last year’s B.C. championship team, including captain Avi Sharabi and B.C. U-18 team player Denise Roy.

“But role players are really the key in sevens. We had a deep team last year [Brentwood was also the B.C. XVs champion] and have plenty of returnees.”

The Canadian team players are cognizant of their role-model function to these young players. Magali Harvey noted many rugby players also play other sports in high school, as she did.

“It’s great, if by seeing the national team play, they decide to choose rugby as their main sport when it comes time to decide,” noted Harvey.

Added national team player Ashley Steacy: “High school rugby is important. This is the next group coming up that will take our positions. We want them to see our passion for the game.”

National team stalwarts Harvey and Steacy are injured and won’t play this weekend. But Kayla Moleschi will be playing for Canada, providing quite the thrill for the Lake City players from her hometown of Williams Lake, and providing fuel for their dreams of following in her cleat prints to the international level. It never hurts to have examples like that to chase. It’s one of the reasons Brentwood coach Felix can say: “High school girls’ sevens is getting better and better every year.”

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