Anyone visiting the DW Poppy Secondary athletic fields Thursday afternoon saw that high school rugby is alive and thriving in Langley.
The Langley Sevens Tournament attracted 26 teams from around the district and also had a celebrity flavour attached to it, with Canadian national men’s sevens team members Nanyak Dala and Liam Underwood popping in for a visit.
The appearance of the pair of Canadian nationals came as the result of a local connection.
DW Poppy senior boys coach and Langley tournament organizer Kyle Barry got in touch with former Aldergrove Community Secondary teacher Brian Hunter, who manages the Canadian men’s sevens squad.
Barry wanted to see if Hunter would be able to bring a couple of national team players out, as they are in town for the Vancouver Sevens Tournament that happened last weekend.
“Brian being a proud supporter of the game, was happy to accommodate our request,” Barry said.
As for the tournament itself, this was its fifth year and it originated from the Langley Rugby Club.
With the club’s support, organizers have been able to continually run this tournament, whether it be at a local school or at the club’s home pitch on Crush Crescent.
Barry said the the club brought the tournament “to the attention of all the coaches that this tournament would be a great experience for all the kids playing rugby to play the seven’s game.”
“In doing so, all teams from the district would be invited to a one day event, and kids would interact with fellow peers and most importantly have fun,” Barry added.
This year’s tournament included four divisions.
The Grade 8 Girls Division was made up of teams from Betty Gilbert, Yorkson Creek, and HD Stafford, with the HD Stafford Skyhawks winning the title.
The Girls Division consisted of DW Poppy, R.E. Mountain, and Brookswood; the DW Poppy Redhawks are this year’s champions after defeating R.E. Mountain Eagles in the final.
The Grade 8 Boys Division had Yorkson Creek, DW Poppy and two teams from HD Stafford competing for top spot. HD Stafford downed Yorkson Creek in the final.
The Junior Boys Division included two teams from the following schools: Mountain, DW Poppy and LSS, as well as a team from Brookswood; the champions were the R.E. Mountain Eagles, who bested DW Poppy in the final.
The Seniors Boys Division had two teams from the following schools: R.E. Mountain, DW Poppy and Langley Secondary, along with one team from Brookswood; The final was a showdown between R.E. Mountain and Langley Secondary, with the R.E. Mountain Eagles taking top spot.
Barry said the tournament was all about participation mixed with a healthy dose of fun.
“The meaning of this tournament is for all the kids participating to have a fun-filled day of rugby, interact with other schools, and partake and experience in a full day a rugby,” Barry said.