A Williams Lake rugby player has been named to BC Rugby’s NextGen 7s men’s team that will be representing B.C. in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament and the Vancouver Rugby Festival in March of 2017.
Nathan Stewart, 25, a Williams Lake secondary graduate and member of the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club who currently plays for the Castaway Wanderers of the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League based in Oak Bay, was announced as one of 12 players on B.C.’s roster for the events.
Stewart and the team will be competing in the Aces Division in Las Vegas and in the Elite Division in Vancouver.
The NextGen 7s program is billed by BC Rugby as an ideal opportunity for players to experience high-quality international competition with the aim of developing the players into world-class athletes that could potentially play for Canada’s National Sevens team.
“It’s going to be awesome playing for the B.C. provincial team,” Stewart said.
“But with the reason they’ve decided to do this (program) and how it’s an opportunity to move up into training for the sevens side national team, that would be ideal moving forward but if it doesn’t happen I’m OK with that, too.
“It’s a great opportunity to play for B.C. They’re using this program as a stepping stone to get players in B.C. recognized.”
Stewart and his Castaway Wanderers teammates, which also includes Alexis Creek’s Riley Ilnicki and Jake Ilnicki — who was unavailable due to playing for Canada’s national team in international play — recently competed for the Barnard Cup at MacDonald Park in Victoria.
“It didn’t go our way but what can you do?” Stewart said, noting the Wanderers fell 18-10 to the James Bay Athletic Association. “That’s sports for you. It was a really brisk rugby game. The other team just didn’t make as many mistakes as we did.”
The Las Vegas Invitational and the Vancouver Rugby Festival will be held over back-to-back weekends in March.
The Las Vegas Invitational goes from March 2-4, while the Vancouver Rugby Festival takes place from March 9-10.