Corben Bowen (right) has become a fixture in the provincial rugby program. The Grade 10 Sardis student credits practicing and playing against older boys for helping make him a better player.

Corben Bowen (right) has become a fixture in the provincial rugby program. The Grade 10 Sardis student credits practicing and playing against older boys for helping make him a better player.

Falcons help prep Bowen for BC battles

Sardis secondary school student Corben Bowen is in Las Vegas this week, representing BC at a rugby sevens event.

No one likes the beep test.

Designed by a coach with a sadistic streak, it involves having athletes run back and forth to pylons set 20 metres apart.

The time they have to do so gets smaller as the test goes on.

Athletes can jog at the start, but must sprint at the end, and there’s no better way to find out who’s truly in shape. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon at Sardis secondary school, the beep test quickly chases most of the Falcon rugby players off the field, retreating to the gym for a gulp of water.

But the youngest among them, Grade 10 student Corben Bowen, keeps going.

And going.

And going.

“It’s hell, but you’ve got to keep pushing yourself to beat your teammates,” Bowen said. “It’s painful at the end.”

That Bowen excels at the beep test says a lot about how hard he trains, and explains why he’s become a fixture in the Team BC rugby program.

It explains why he’s in Las Vegas this week, part of a 12 man U-16 roster taking part in the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens event.

It explains why he’ll probably represent the province in similar events in China (Hong Kong) and Germany.

“I’ve never done anything like this (Las Vegas) before and I think it will be amazing and fun,” Bowen said before leaving for Sin City. “If you want to be better you’ve got to play with and against the top athletes, and I’m just fortunate they picked me.”

More than 30 players participated in four tryouts to qualify for the Vegas trip. Bowen, who can play just about any position in seven’s believes versatility helped secure a spot.

“Not too many guys can do that because they have to have the right size and cardio,” he said. “We play three to four games each day.”

Past history with Team BC helps.

Two years ago he represented BC at a national rugby festival in Victoria, and he’s well known to his coaches and provincial teammates.

“The faces don’t change much because I play club and provincial and now this level, so I talk to the other guys on a regular basis,” Bowen said. “A couple have become really good friends. We text each other and hang out and great friendships come from it.”

Bowen’s other advantage is practicing  with, and playing against, older boys in high school.

“I come to school and play with a bunch of bigger guys, so when I make a team like this and play against guys my own age I’m not intimidated,” Bowen noted.

The trips to China and Germany will hinge on Bowen’s performance in Vegas.

There will be more tryouts and nothing is assured.

“It’s amazing to have these opportunities and it leaves me speechless,” Bowen said. “I’m doing something I love and having fun with it. Doing at this elite level is phenomenal.”

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