Three Williams Lake rugby players will have the opportunity later this month to compete with Team BC as the provincial U18 women’s team plays a pair of matches against the newly formed U.S. U18 women at Brentwood College School on Vancouver Island.
Laura Pfleiderer, Emma Pfleiderer and Carleigh Walters are fresh off a win over the Prairie Wolfpack — an all-star team of players from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — at the Western Canadian Championships in Kelowna earlier this month and the B.C. women are anxious to prove themselves against the nascent American side in the games on Aug. 21 and Aug. 23.
“Our team framework is already in place,” Team BC head coach Marius Felix said. “And we will have the opportunity to train three times prior to our first game against the U.S. I expect a highly athletic and motivated American squad, and see this as a massive challenge and opportunity for the B.C. players.
“This will not be an easy task, but one the players and coaching staff are really looking forward to. I anticipate there will be several players from both squads who may one day play for their respective national senior teams.”
Felix, who also coaches Brentwood’s senior girls 15 side, will be assisted by his fellow Brentwood coaches Steve Cowie, Jen Ross and Dave Grisdale. The roster, announced last week, named sisters Laura and Emma, and Walters, back to the squad.
Meanwhile, the U.S. coaches are eager to test their team against players of the calibre produced in B.C.
“B.C. has such a tremendous reputation as a stronghold in the Rugby Canada landscape, particularly with its women’s programs,” U.S. coach Tam Breckenridge said.
“We know coming in that the B.C. team will be well coached and very rugby savvy. These games will provide a good opportunity to measure where we are in terms of program development.
“In addition, being able to travel to Vancouver Island for these two games will allow the players an opportunity to train alongside the U20 team and attend its first match against Canada. Hopefully this will serve to inspire them both for the short term as they prepare for the games with BC as well as for the long-term, as they develop into our national team of the future.”
The games will also provide Rugby Canada with the opportunity to see the B.C. players in action with an eye on Canada’s plans to name a U18 national team in the near future, as well as see what the future of U.S. rugby may look like.
This is the first tour for the U.S. National Women’s team at the U18 level. The U.S. roster will be drawn from across the country, including the rugby hotbeds of California, Washington, Utah and New York.
“There will be a mix of athleticism and physicality, some experience mixed in with a lot of youth and excitement,” Breckenridge said.
“The players have demonstrated an ability to adapt to the patterns of play stressed by the coaching staff, which we hope will carry across in these first real competitive opportunities.”