Richmond's Tomasi Vataiki and Harjun Gill have been named to the B.C. U18 rugby team that will be competing at next month's Las Vegas Invitational Sevens Tournament.
Vataiki is a key member of the program at McRoberts secondary and plays at the club level for Bayside. Gill is a product of the Richmond Rugby Club and attends St. Georges.
The B.C. squad will head into North America's largest invitational youth sevens tournament as defending champion in the High School Elite Division.
After spending much of the Fall season holding regional and provincial identification sessions and development camps, the Las Vegas tournament kicks off an exciting 2013 schedule which will see the top players move onto competitions in Hong Kong and Victoria. The program is part of a pathway designed to identify and develop young athletes who will be best qualified to represent Canada with distinction at future Rugby World Cups and Olympic Games.
"This tour will expose these young athletes to a full weekend of the international rugby sevens experience," B.C. coach Shane Thompson said. "They will be prepared in a sevens environment, compete in a sevens tournament and will get to see top level international teams competing at the Las Vegas Sevens, an official stop on the International Rugby Board World Series Sevens circuit."
These are exciting times for the BCEY7s program, now in its third year of existence, as their first graduate - Abbotsford's Justin Douglas - was selected to play for the Canadian senior men's national team this past fall.
"Being able to watch the senior inter-national athletes compete will give our younger players exposure to the opportunities ahead and they can see first hand the work they will need to do in order to play at the next level," Thompson added.
This year's Elite Division opposition includes State-rep teams from Utah and Washington as well as Canadian rivals Ontario and regional side Dog River Howlers. Last year's runners-up USA All-Americans will also provide stiff competition.
The Vegas invitational runs from Feb. 8-10.