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South Surrey rugby trio to represent Canada at U20 event

Rugby Canada-hosted Canada Conference 2022 to be held at University of Guelph
Canada’s U20 rugby coach Adam Roberts (centre) poses for a photo with Talon and Takoda McMullin. The South Surrey trio will represent Canada on the rugby pitch this month in Ontario. (Contributed photo)

A trio of Semiahmoo Peninsula residents are set to represent Canada this month in Ontario, at Canada Conference 2022 – an international tournament that will feature three other countries.

Canada’s U20 side is coached by longtime Earl Marriott Secondary teacher and rugby coach Adam Roberts – who was a co-head coach of the team before taking the reins on his own this summer – and the roster includes a pair of EMS alums, Takoda and Talon McMullin.

The event, which runs from Aug. 13-23 at the University of Guelph, will also feature teams from Zimbabwe, Chile and Uruguay. Teams will play each other once each, Roberts explained.

The McMullin twins – who now play at the University of B.C. – were two-sports stars at Earl Marriott, leading the school to both volleyball and rugby provincial championships. With Canada’s U20 squad, Roberts said, they add to a very athletic group of young players that Roberts was excited to finally see play together.

Up until this point, the U20 program has been split into two groups – a tryout camp in the west, and one in the east. A handful of planned international friendlies, which would have seen the two groups join together, was scheduled for earlier in 2022, but was scrapped due to the rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“(The team) has phenomenal athletes from across the country,” Roberts told Peace Arch News from Toronto, where he was watching Canada’s U19 team play in order to identify talent for next summer’s U20 squad.

“It’s an exciting group.”

The McMullin twins are the only Surrey-area players on the U20 team. Other B.C. members of the 28-player roster included two players from North Vancouver, and one each from Vancouver, Nelson, Kelowna and Victoria. Roberts added that a few other Surrey players were late cuts from the roster, and would likely be in the mix for next year’s team.

“This tournament will provide much-needed game time for our U20s program in a competitive environment,” Dustin Hopkins, Rugby Canada’s managing director of rugby operations, said in a news release.

The McMullins’ past experience with the national program, Roberts said, was with Canada’s U18 team. That group didn’t face the same international competition that the U20s will face, however – the team travelled to San Diego to play the U.S. U18 squad.

Canada will open its U20 tournament Aug. 13 against Zimbabwe, with Game 2 set for Aug. 18 against Chile. They’ll wrap-up the round-robin style event with a game against Uruguay on Aug. 23.

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