Thompson Rivers University WolfPack team added to women's rugby 7s pilot program

Thompson Rivers University is the latest post-secondary school to add a team to the Canada West rugby 7s pilot program.

Pilot runs for two more years before officials decide whether or not to launch permanent program

Canada's Ashley Steacy, pictured above against England at the HSBC Canada women's sevens rugby event in May, ended her international career with a bronze medal in France. (Don MacKinnon/AFP/Getty Images)

Thompson Rivers University is the latest post-secondary school to put together a team for the Canada West women's rugby sevens pilot program.

The program, called the Women's Rugby Sevens Series, started in January 2017, after a Canada West study identified rugby sevens as an emerging sport.

"It's always important to review what you're doing and find where the interests lie in your community," said Rocky Olfert, managing director of Canada West.

"There's a movement nationally with the growth of the sport."

With the help of Rugby Canada and athlete financing group B2Ten, Canada West launched the series.

Seven out of the 17 schools that are part of Canada West have fielded teams for women's rugby sevens: the universities of Calgary and Lethbridge, Alta., as well as those in Victoria  and the Fraser Valley.

The program is set to run for three years, and then Canada West will evaluate its success by measuring athlete participation and school and community support. From there, officials will decide whether or not to keep the program running.

TRU plans to review its team, named WoflPack, and its experience in the program after the first season.

Derek Pue, head coach for the TRU team, said he's excited about rugby sevens becoming an option at the university level.

Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack women's rugby sevens head coach Derek Pue is excited for a new level of rugby sevens to come to Kamloops. (CBC)

"There seems to be a bit of a drop off in rugby athletes from that 17- to 18-year-old age through to the senior women's and senior men's," Pue said.

"Having something that's essentially an under 25 program at every major university in Western Canada running sevens and competing against each other is pretty huge."