Penticton’s Sol Jacques of the Team BC U15 rugby team runs the ball against his Saskatchewan opponents at the Western Canada Championships in Kelowna. Submitted photo

South Okanagan athletes shine at Western Canada Rugby tourney

South Okanagan from this region turn in strong showing at Westerns

Area players turned in stellar performances at last week’s Western Canada Rugby Championships at the Parkinson Rec Centre in Kelowna.

Carlin Bordin-Slavens of Naramata, Summerland’s Koen Buckingham and Daniel Kilian of Penticton helped the BC U16 Blue team to a gold medal.

Despite high heat conditions and being up against some of the best age-level players in the country, the squad managed to go undefeated in its six games.

The BC U15 entry, that included Sol Jacques and Alan Woodhouse of Penticton and Summerland’s Kieran Messier, turned in a strong showings in their six matches, all against the older U16 teams, finishing in fifth overall.

“Although I love to win, playing competitive games where the boys are able to compete and can learn from this experience as a development opportunity is a better option for us,” said Team BC coach Ryan Banks.

On the final day of the tournament the U15 squad earned a tie in a well-matched game against Manitoba and secured a win over Saskatchewan.

Related: Harlequins stepping up for South Okanagan youth

Earlier this season South Okanagan players took part in the Thompson Okanagan Rugby Alliance (TORA) practices in Kelowna and the Provincial Regional Championships (PRC) in Burnaby.

From there they were selected to attend the provincial rep team camps at UBC in Vancouver and based on their performances there, the athletes were then chosen for the provincial team representing BC at the Westerns against the other three province’s top teams.

As well, of special note during that week was the selection of 12-year-old Ollie Jacques of Penticton to the BC U14 team.

He took part in two inter-squad games as part of the camp that was at the Kelowna UBCO.

Jacques played on a mixed U14/U15 team at the PRC’s and was chosen to be a reserve U14 team member. The squad will be playing a Washington State team Aug. 3 at the Capilano Rugby Club in Vancouver.

Related: Kids get the touch on rugby

Jacques had his start in rugby in a touch league offered by the Penticton Harlequins Rugby Club coached by Ken Simpson.

“The game of rugby offers opportunity for growth in skill, athleticism, team-building, and most importantly, character,” said rugby parent Kathryn Golbeck, who has done considerable work to give local players the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential by attending try outs and competitions like the Western Canada event.

She also expressed her appreciation to the many businesses and organizations who helped with fundraising and other services for the local players attending the Western Championships.

Youth interested in playing rugby can contact the Penticton Harlequins Rugby Club and sign up to play in middle and high schools.

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Carlin Bordin-Slavens of Naramata playing for the Team BC U16 rugby selects is tackled on this scoring attempt at the Western Canada Championships.

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