Williams Lake’s Jake Ilnicki and Kayla Moleschi were both in action this week in international rugby competition.
Ilnicki, 21, and the Canadian men’s 15s side began a four-game tour Sunday in Toronto against one of the top nations in the world, the New Zealand Maori All Blacks.
In tough in front of 22,566 passionate fans at BMO Field the Canadians fell 40-15 in a solid effort.
Ilnicki, who was making his debut for Team Canada in the tighthead prop position, played the better part of the second half in the game.
“Thanks for all the love and support,” Ilnicki posted via his Twitter account immediately following the game. “[It was] a real honour to get out there. Despite the score, it was fun.”
The Sunday contest would break records as the largest crowd in not only Canadian and North American rugby history, but also history for BMO Field.
Meanwhile the Canadian women’s 15s side, without Moleschi, opened their November tour with a 27-19 loss to France Saturday in Pontarlier.
Canada fell behind 12-0 early in the first half and never recovered from the initial setback.
“We are frustrated because we could have won today,” head coach Francois Ratier said following the loss. “Our start was not great and sometimes we had a lack of connection between each other, but I am not worried about the capacity of this group to fix it and come back stronger.”
Moleschi, a member of Canada’s women’s seven-a-side roster, made her debut for Canada’s 15-a-side team in the tournament on Tuesday, replacing Stephanie Bernier in the scrum-half position and helping Canada to its first win of the tournament, 11-6, over France in a rematch.
Next up the Canadian women travel to compete against England in London on Nov. 13.
Ilnicki and the men’s side will meet Georgia this Saturday, Nov. 9, in Tbilisi, Georgia, before heading to Romania Nov. 16 and Portugal Nov. 23.