• Michael Hayakawa (Markham Economust & Sun)

Markham rugby player, 17, to play with Canadian men's squad

Andrew Coe gets call for Maple Leafs team playing in Las Vegas

Bound for Vegas

Just 17, Andrew Coe of Markham will play for the Canadian Maple Leaf men's sevens team in Las Vegas.

Andrew Coe believes age doesn’t really matter.

The Markham resident will take to the rugby pitch at the Las Vegas Seven’s competition starting today.

It’s one of the largest amateur rugby events in North America with more than 240 teams in 25 divisions.

Coe could easily be playing in a group for players his own age.

But the 17-year-old will be playing at the highest competitive level as a member of the men’s Canadian Maple Leafs squad.

As the youngest on the 11-member squad, Coe said he is looking forward to the opportunity, regardless of how much playing time he may receive.

“I feel very honoured to go to such a prestigious tournament to represent my country,” he said. “I might not play a significant amount of minutes, but when I do get to play I intend on proving that age is just a number.”

Coe said his selection for the squad came after his performance at the Under-18 Victoria Seven’s Championships last year.

He was chosen to attend a training camp in British Columbia in September where he caught the attention of the coaching staff and was on a short list to go on tour to Las Vegas.

But when the Maple Leafs held a training camp a couple of weeks ago, Coe wasn’t invited.

However, that all changed last Monday when Coe received a call from Canada Seven’s boss Geraint John.

“I was pretty surprised to be a part of the Maple Leafs team,” Coe said. “I was actually studying for my exams when Geraint John called.”

Introduced to the game when he was 9 and learning it through his time with the Markham Irish Canadians Rugby Football Club, Coe said coaches, family and friends and attending Bill Crothers Secondary School, the sports focused public high school in Unionville, helped him get where he is today.

Having captained the Canadian under-18 team during a tour last fall in Romania, Coe acknowledged his inclusion onto the Maple Leafs squad is the highlight thus far in his rugby career.

He hopes it will be a precursor to some day making the men’s national senior squad.

Before that, though, he’s setting his sights on attending university in the fall.

Whatever university he chooses to attend, Coe said he will make sure there’s a rugby team.

“Education is very important to me. But whichever university I attend I want to make the firsts team,” he said.

Another member of the Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Football Club, Troy Matthews, will be competing in the Las Vegas Seven’s event.

The Markham resident will be displaying his skills as a member of the Ontario Under-18 Junior Blues seven’s team.

Matthews was one of 12 players between 15 and 17 selected for the provincial team that will compete in the Boys High School Elite Division.

The division features teams from Canada and the United States to compete in the tournament that concludes Saturday.

#Canada #2014 #U20

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