Rugby players with Cowichan Valley ties have been making their mark with the national junior program in recent weeks.
Athletes who call the Valley home, or who attend or have attended area schools, suited up for the national U19 and U18 teams in late December and early January on trips to Northern Ireland and the U.S.
Reece Tudor-Jones, who lives in Shawnigan Lake and attends Shawnigan Lake School, was included on the U19 roster for a three-game trip to Northern Ireland. Tudor-Jones, who also played for the Canadian sevens team at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas last summer, was joined on the team by 2017 Brentwood College grad Harrison Hooke.
The Canadians lost all three, falling 23-19 to Campbell College on Dec. 29, 17-7 to Ards RFC on Dec. 30, and 31-3 to Ulster U19 in Belfast on Jan. 2.
The Canada Red and White U18 teams, who travelled to Arizona for tests against the USA Rugby High School All-Americans at the end of the year, included five players with Cowichan connections.
Canada White was captained by Ciaran Breen, a Shawnigan student from Mill Bay, and also included Breen’s Cowichan Rugby Football Club teammate Zephyr Melnyk, who lives on Gabriola Island and attends school in Nanaimo, and Shawnigan student Dean Mason, who calls Regina home. Canada Red included CRFC players Matt McDougall-Percillier of Mill Bay and Brentwood College, and James Macdonald of Surrey and Shawnigan Lake School.
Both Canadian teams both won against their American opponents on Dec. 28, and both lost on Dec. 31.
Rugby Canada took 56 players to Arizona, 28 of whom will be selected for a tour of the UK in March.