B.C. powers Team Canada at Vancouver rugby sevens
BC Place hosting 16 international teams for inaugural World Series event
Team Canada already has home field advantage ahead of today's World Rugby Sevens event in Vancouver, but the team hopes a backbone of B.C. players on its roster will give them an extra edge.
Canadian coach Liam Middleton selected 10 players with B.C. hometowns when naming his 12-man roster on Thursday.
Six of the players are from the Lower Mainland area. Four are from Vancouver Island. The remaining two are from Ontario.
While the B.C. contingent is excited to be playing at home, it also comes with its share of pressures.
"We're really excited to have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family because it doesn't happen too often so we want to make the most of it," said Canada's Nathan Hirayama. "I've got a lot of people taking the Canada Line down from Richmond."
There's no single reason for the B.C.'s roster dominance.
The sport has a long history in the province that stretches back to before the turn of the 20th century and the establishment of the B.C. Rugby Union in 1889.
The temperate West Coast weather also allows teams to practise and play year-round.
"The other provinces just aren't able to get as much game time as our athletes are," said Dean Murten the B.C. Rugby Union performance development manager.
"It's all about game time. That makes you a better decision maker," he said.
It also helps that top players from across the country come to B.C. to practise at Rugby Canada's four-year-old Victoria-area training centre.
"They've got the dietitians there. They've gone the mental trainers there. They've got this great facility," said Murten.
That B.C. presence has been a constant this year for the men's sevens team. Eleven of the 12 players named to Team Canada for the previous sevens tour-stop in Las Vegas were from British Columbia.