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World class rugby in Kelowna

Two new sports will be introduced at the Brazil Olympics in 2016 – golf and rugby sevens. 

Many of the rugby men and women who will represent Canada at those Olympic games are here in Kelowna this weekend to play in the RugbyDaze Sevens tournament.

The Canadian Maple Leafs men's and women's teams will both play at the Apple Bowl on Friday night and all-day Saturday. The Maple Leafs compete in world competitions for our nation. 

They are stocked with many of the best players in Canada today, including Nick Blevins, capped 19 times for Canada, Gordon McRorie, scrum-half for Canada against Japan last month, and Pat Kay, captain of the Under-20 Canadian team who placed 2nd in the Championships last year in Chile.

The Maple Leaf men will compete in a 12-team sevens tournament against a number of other outstanding men's teams. 

The Calgary Hornets are three-time provincial champions in Alberta. 

The Lionheart Sevens side competes successfully in many international sevens tournaments, such as the Las Vegas and Dubai Sevens events. The Lionheart side features a number of world-class players, including Sitiveni Nacoko, recognized as one of the top sevens players in Canada. 

Two local sevens teams are considered dark horses to do well in the tournament. The Cannibals are a local group of players who won the Calgary Stampede Sevens last weekend. The Kelowna Tartan Blazers have many players from the Kelowna Crows, including Cole Mosychuk, a highly regarded prospect for national sevens play.

The 5-team women's tournament will be just as exciting. The two finalists in the Women's Sevens 2014 Final in Las Vegas will both be here. The Canadian Maple Leafs defeated the Aptoella Angels 17 – 5 in that Sin City international final. However, the Angels are hot, winning the Stampede Sevens last weekend. Both of these teams are made up of Canada's top sevens and 15's players. 

Julia Greenshields who has been playing with the women's Maple Leafs team for three years said Sevens is a really intense and high endurance game. 

"It's a big field, a lot more running and a lot more defending," she said. "Whether it be tackling, rucking, passing, this tournament is a great opportunity to build skills and confidence." 

Canada players here this weekend include Barbara Mervin, scoring sensation Magali Harvey, Julianne Zussman, and Jessica Dovanne, all who have been named to compete for Canada in the Women's Rugby World Cup next month in France.

"We don't often get this many world-class players competing in Kelowna," said Doug Manning, President of the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts. "Both the men's and women's tournaments will be outstanding to watch. We encourage anyone interested in seeing this exciting new Olympic sport to join us at the Apple Bowl on Friday and Saturday."

Games began at 4 p.m. on July 11 at the Apple Bowl. Saturday games begin at 9:00 a.m., with the semi-finals and finals projected to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Friday night games were free to the public. Saturday games cost $10 for an all-day pass. Under-13 youth accompanied by a parent get in free at anytime.

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