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Future looks bright for local rugby players

From left, Michael Caldecott, Ezra Harding, Rhelmu Wilson-Valdez, Rowan Megale, Adam Strautman, Jake Doss. — Submitted photo

The future looks bright for a handful of local rugby players from Nelson after the contingent received invites to the BC Provincial tryouts this weekend at University of BC in Vancouver.

Michael Caldecott, Ezra Harding, Rhelmu Wilson-Valdez, Rowan Megale, Adam Strautman and Jake Doss, all from the Heritage City, as well as Ashley van Rensburg of Castlegar were in Vancouver for the provincial event.

“This speaks firstly to the high-level athletes in the Kootenays and for them to get the opportunity to make their mark at a BC rugby event, at the same time creates a name for the interior,” said local coach Nikolas Wood.

“This speaking highly to personal potential of these athletes but also programs being offered for rugby here in the Kootenays.”

Wilson-Valdez and Adam Strautman are vying for spots on the U15 squad while Doss and Harding are shooting for the U16 & U17 roster, respectfully.

Megale, Caldecott and van Rensburg are among the U18 tryouts.

“Extremely excited . . . grateful for the opportunity,” said the players. “Nervous . . . we couldn't have done it without the coaching.”

The players, who are all members of the L.V. Rogers Bombers Rugby side that finished second in the BC High School Rugby Tier II Championships in Abbotsford, earned the selections during the recent Provincial Regional Championship Scouting Tournament held June 30 to July 3 in Burnaby.

Most of the players were part of the U18 & U16 Thompson Okanagan Regional Team.

The players are now among 40 from across the province selected to the tryout camp.

“We’ve been having extra skills sessions with the coaches,” the players said when asked about the upcoming challenge. “There have been not a lot of forward focus as we were training so hard for the next game in front of us.”

The tryouts were held at UBC July 12-15 and July 22-24.

“I feel their chances are high, very high,” said Wood, whose been asked to assist with the U15 BC Team coaching squad. “They have all worked very hard throughout the season and PRC summer season I’ve been incredibly impressed with their growth and skill development.”

The BC U15 and U17 are slated to travel to Calgary for the Nationals August 4th while the U18 squad is preparing to tour Ireland, also in August.

While most of the players are back in high school for another season with the LVR Bombers, both Megale, off to the University of Victoria, and Caldecott, slated to play for the Rowers club, will begin to play men’s club rugby.

However, there’s a shot a playing for BC on the horizon that has all their attention.

“This is an awesome opportunity to represent the province. The exposure to good, higher level coaching. Fortunate to have been scouted.”

To assist with expenses fundraising plans are in the works.

Anyone wanting to help these boys achieve their dream can contact Wood at woodnik21@gmail.com