LANGLEY — Theirs was a season which was ended in its infancy back in March.
Yet while the B.C. boys high school rugby graduating Class of 2020 didn’t get a chance to experience the tests of league, playoff and provincial matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no doubting its heart and its skill.
That’s why today, the B.C. Secondary Schools Rugby Union has decided to continue its annual tradition with Varsity Letters, and present a list of its top 50 graduating players.
Every senior boys varsity head coach in the province was asked for their opinion, and after that extensive consultation was complete, two teams of 25 were fashioned.
Players listed numbers one-through-15 are done so largely by their positions, while those 16-through-25 are mixed bag of forwards and backs. The list does not purport to rank its 50 players in any way.
Yet it’s as much a tribute to a lost season and all of the Grade 12 players who did not get the opportunity to finish their high school careers on the field of play.
For his part, BCSSRU commissioner Walter Van Halst was confident that the passing of years would reveal the 2020 season’s true takeaways.
“Both physically and mentally, rugby is a sport which will test any athlete and the Class of 2020 has definitely overcome greater adversity than any high school graduating class in Canada since the second World War,” said Van Halst. “My high school rugby coach, Derek Hyde-Lay, used to say ‘There are two schools of thought about sports: One that it builds character and the other that it reveals character.’ I believe that both are true, and that this class will meet that test because it has already had to overcome a pandemic.”
BCSSRU’s Fab 50
(The top graduating boys players as selected by B.C. high school rugby coaches)
1 Logan Weidner (North Vancouver-Carson Graham)
2 Phoenix Moller (Abbotsford-Robert Bateman)
3 Matt Klimchuk (Victoria-St. Michaels University School)
4 Relmu Wilson-Valdez (Nelson-L.V. Rogers)
5 Ao Ma (Vancouver-St. George’s)
6 Nolan LaCroix (Vancouver’s St. George’s)
7 Tayton Geinger (Abbotsford-Yale)
8 Nico Falcon (Shawnigan Lake)
9 Max Abercrombie (Victoria-Oajk Bay)
10 Jamin Hodgkins (Shawnigan Lake)
11 Graeme Norris (Shawnigan Lake)
12 Talon McMullin (Surrey-Earl Marriott)
13 Nathan Holm (West Vancouver-Collingwood)
14 James Horsey (Vancouver-St. George’s)
15 Takoda McMullin (Surrey-Earl Marriott)
16 Adam Strautman (Nelson-L.V. Rogers)
17 Jackey Kuang (Abbotsford-Yale)
18 David Begin (South Delta)
19 Evan Patterson (South Delta)
20 Henry Brown (Langley-D.W. Poppy)
21 Ethan Schiman (Vernon-Clarence Fulton)
22 Blaise Benoit (West Vancouver-Collingwood)
23 Colby Nestman (Surrey-Lord Tweedsmuir)
24 Lyndan Duggan (Burnaby Central)
25 Callum Blake-Currier (Mill Bay-Brentwood College)
1 Andrew Mattes (Nanaimo District)
2 Joey Ficocelli (West Vancouver-Collingwood)
3 Jack Lee (Nelson-L.V. Rogers)
4 Owen Smith (Victoria-Oak Bay)
5 Connor Alexander (Port Alberni-Alberni District)
6 Thomas Foote (West Vancouver-Collingwood)
7 Marcus Wright-Smith (St. George’s)
8 Quinton Watt (Vancouver-Lord Byng)
9 Nate Barrington-Dom (Vancouver-Lord Byng)
10 Josiah Levale (Abbotsford)
11 Will Kinahan (Victoria-St. Michaels University School)
12 Matt LeRoux (Victoria-St. Michaels University School)
13 Storm Buck (Kelowna)
14 Kiya Vivier-Miller (Vancouver-Sir Charles Tupper)
15 Finn Hussey (Kelowna)
16 Kyle Chartier (Surrey-Clayton Heights)
17 Dayden Guidone (Abbotsford-Yale)
18 Ashty Omar (Burnaby-Byrne Creek)
19 Newton Ma (Langley-D.W. Poppy)
20 Jaden Leach (Surrey-Southridge)
21 Sterling Rawlins (Surrey-Southridge)
22 Jordan Tak (Coquitlam-Dr. Charles Best)
23 Spencer Birmingham (Coquitlam-Dr. Charles Best)
24 Jaiden Klaassen (Chilliwack-G.W. Graham)
25 Torren Kaiser (Mill Bay-Brentwood College)
One prominent B.C. high school coach hoped that in coming seasons, just such a 50-player roster would have the opportunity to gather following the provincial championships for the playing of an all-star game, something that happened this past season in football, and has become a staple in post-championship basketball circles.
Regardless, Van Halst had a message for every B.C. high school rugby grad.
“The Class of 2020 may not have worn tuxedos, rented limos and spent a lot of time on ceremony,” he began. “Instead, it had to grow up and take responsibility the same way adults do everyday. On both the rugby pitch and in the real world, it is your character, work ethic and ability to work as part of a team that counts. That’s why so many employers love to hire competitive athletes who demonstrate these qualities. And unlike most sports in North America which normally die off after high school, in rugby the fun, camaraderie and truly epic battles are just beginning. There are quality university and club rugby programs not only all across Canada, but around the world and I believe that the Class of 2020 is going to take full advantage of that because losing one season will only make them more determined to enjoy the great bonds and adventures of rugby.”
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