BC Bears Update – January 2023

BC Rugby Name Coaches for BC Senior and Age Grade Teams

The BCRU seem to have their act together this year with a top notch slate of coaches. Leading the senior men’s team is Curry Hitchborn. It’s a no-brainer to have him in charge of the Provincial men’s team as he leads the most successful university program in the country and his UBC team are perennial contenders for the BC Premier title. Phil Mack and Jake Ilnicki are assistant coaches.

There is talent across the youth coaching ranks as well. It’s a strong coaching team this year. Well done BCRU!

from BCRU

BC Rugby is delighted to announce the appointment of 18 BC Bears Coaches for the 2023 Senior and Age-Grade XVs programs.

Curry Hitchborn (UBC Thunderbirds) will lead the BC Bears Senior Men’s XVs team in preparation for the Coast-to-Coast Cup competition taking place in Halifax this summer, alongside Assistant Coaches Phil Mack (Pacific Pride) and Jake Ilnicki (Williams Lake Rustlers).

“Curry’s past experience on the Coaching pathway, with BC’s Age-Grade programs, his leadership in making UBC one of the top University programs in North America, as well as his team’s consistent performance in the BC Rugby Premier League, has enabled him to have an in-depth knowledge of our talented player pool along with knowing how to prepare them best to represent BC Rugby. Phil Mack and Jake Ilnicki, who are both former BC pathway athletes and now Coaches, and will also bring recent professional and international experience into the Bears coaching team.” – John Tait, BC Rugby Technical Director

Hitchborn returns to coaching BC Representative Rugby with a wealth of experience, having previously guided BC to numerous titles at U19, U17 and U16 level. He led the UBC Thunderbirds Men’s Program to four Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championships (2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022). Under his leadership, UBC lifted the 2022 BC Rugby Men’s Premier League presented by ONNI title last May.

“Coaching the BC Bears has been a goal of mine since watching Tom Larisch and Mike James lead the program some time ago. I was immediately engaged with how that was run and ever since I have been looking to bring that level of commitment and professionalism to the role. I have coached for BC Rugby for many years and have been fortunate to accomplish a solid resume of national championships while there. This is another opportunity to nail down the basics, bring the right people in and maintain a relevant and competitive identity.” – Curry Hitchborn, BC Bears Senior Men’s XVs Head Coach

The selection process for the BC Bears Senior Men’s XVs team will include identification through BC Rugby Senior Leagues and Regional Competitions.

For the BC Rugby Senior Women’s pathway, in alignment with the direction of the Women’s National Team leadership, BC Rugby will run a series of Blue vs. Gold matches competing for the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup in May and June 2023. These teams will be selected from athletes competing in BC Rugby’s Senior Leagues, with the ambition to play for Canada U20 and our Senior Women’s National Team program. Coaches for this program will be named at a later date.

BC Bears Age-Grade Coaches

Following a successful 2022 for BC Rugby Age-Grade Representative XVs teams, including a clean sweep of titles at the 2022 Western Canadian Championships and victory for the BC Bears U19 Men’s team at the 2022 Canadian Rugby U19 Championships, we are delighted to confirm the Coaches who will lead BC Bears U19, U18 and U18 Boys and Girls XVs programs in 2023.

“BC Rugby is fortunate to be able to provide some consistency with several Coaches returning from the successful 2022 BC Bears campaign, as well as the addition of some new faces from our Club and Regional Rugby programming supporting these young athletes and teams. The Coaches all will all be working collectively throughout the 2023 season to ensure we identify, promote, and develop the next generation of performance athletes.” – John Tait, BC Rugby Technical Director

The Coaches for the BC Bears Age-Grade XVs Teams are:

U19 Men

Head Coach: Graham Turner (UBCOB Ravens)
Assistant Coaches: Greg Clague (Westshore RFC/UVIC) and Dan Haynes (UBC Okanagan)

U19 Women

Head Coach: Olly Winser (Castaway Wanderers)
Assistant Coach: Matt Fraser (Meraloma RFC)

U18 Boys

Head Coach: Leana Marton (Kelowna Secondary School)
Assistant Coaches: Rob Hayes and Everitt Konsmo (Kitsilano Secondary School)

U18 Girls

Head Coach: Jen Ross (James Bay AA)
Assistant Coach: Jake Thiel (Rugby Canada)

U16 Boys

Head Coach: John Mergui (Vancouver Rowing Club RFC)
Assistant Coaches: Remi Antcil (Shawnigan Lake School) and Scott McGinley (Meraloma RFC)

U16 Girls

Head Coach: Sherry Spence (Cowichan RFC)
Assistant Coach: Nicole Simoneau (UBC Thunderbirds)


BC Rugby is hosting Talent ID and Development Sessions to identify athletes for the U19 BC Bears Program. U16 and U18 Teams will have Talent ID and Development Sessions hosted at a later date.

Click on the Session to learn more and register:

U19 Men

Lower Mainland Session: Sunday, February 19 at Andy Livingstone Park, Vancouver

Island Session: Sunday, February 19 at Shawnigan Lake School, Shawnigan

Interior Session: Sunday, March 12 at Mission Recreation Park, Kelowna

U19 Women

Lower Mainland Session: Sunday, February 5 at UBC MacInnes Turf Field, Vancouver

Island Session: Sunday, February 26 at University of Victoria Field #8, Victoria

All male and female BC Bears Senior and Age-Grade Representative teams will wear playing kit manufactured and supplied by X-Treme Sports Gear, the official kit supplier to BC Rugby.

About X-Treme Sports Gear

X-treme Sports Gear is a Canadian-owned company that has been serving the sporting community for 15 years with its custom designed gear for both on and off the field. It is an industry leader in technical development and innovative design and specialises in designing and manufacturing apparel for most major sports.

Posted in BC Rugby, Coaching.

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