A Chilliwack rugby star is in England right now, representing her country against international competition.
Danika Elias is one of seven BC high schoolers who’ve been named to Team Canada U-18.
The former Sardis secondary school student left earlier this week, flying to Toronto and then on to England.
“We’re playing two test-matches over 10 days against England U-18,” Elias explained.
She makes the trip with 25 others, selected from a group of 60-plus that attended a tryout camp.
Before ever reaching that stage, Elias had to impress at the regional and provincial levels.
“It’s been a tough and long process getting here, but it’s all fun because the rugby’s great and you get to play with really talented girls,” she said.
Elias only got her rugby start two years ago as a Grade 10 student.
Her meteoric rise saw her play for Team BC last summer under coach Marius Felix, who liked what he saw. He invited her to move to Mill Bay and attend Brentwood College, where Felix is the head coach of a powerhouse girls rugby team.
“He thought I would be an asset for his team and I was so excited to have the opportunity,” she said.
Standing five-foot-seven and weighing 145 pounds, Elias describes herself as an average to smaller sized forward. But what she may lack in stature she makes up for in strength and determination.
“I’m naturally pretty competitive so it was easy to start tackling people, and running with the ball came easily as well,” Elias said when asked how she excelled in the sport so quickly. “I think my opponents would say I’m a very aggressive player who likes to have the ball and goes confidently into contact.”
“And I don’t ever give up the field. I like to work hard and push myself.”
Elias is growing accustomed to rugby travel.
She’s been on a California tour with the Abbotsford Rugby Club and went to Las Vegas with a BC Youth Elite 7’s team in Grade 11.
But England is different.
While Elias won’t have a lot of time for touristy things, she has one wish on her things-to-do list.
“We’ll do two tours, and I want to go to one of their tea shops,” she said. “I really like their breakfast teas.”
“Tea and scones. Cucumber sandwiches.”
When she gets back to Canada Elias will probably have more travel plans.
The teenager is drawing interest from CIS rugby programs, including Acadia, Ottawa, UBC and St. Francis Xavier.
“I’ve seen Acadia and Ottawa and I’m going to check out UBC soon,” Elias said. “I’m interested in all of them and they all have good rugby programs.”
“I’m just working on nailing down which school will be the best fit for me.”