Canada’s men’s XVs rugby team is headed to the World Cup in September, and they won’t be going alone.

In Langford Thursday, Rugby Canada announced its lineup for the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup, a precursor to the World Cup.

But a surprise announcement to a young fan stole the show. Sixteen-year-old Trinity Bodenchuk thought she was there to meet the players, but in fact the young rugby player from Abbotsford had been selected from hundreds of entries to accompany Canada to the World Cup and present the game ball on the field before Canada’s game versus South Africa on Oct. 8. 

“I’m in a dream right now. It’s like it’s not happening but it is. I’m just so happy,” says Bodenchuk. 

She hasn’t even been playing two years and already she’s captivated by the game. Bodenchuck says her health and fitness have improved dramatically as a result.

“Rugby helped me. Gave me a family, it gave me friends, it gave me self-confidence. I lost a lot of weight during my rugby season and rugby has always been there for me.”

Canada is ranked 20th out of 20 teams at the World Cup. DTH Van Der Merwe, a veteran of three World Cups, says expectations are realistic going into this year's tournament.

“It’s not where we want to be as a country,” says Van Der Merwe. “We’ve had some tough years in the last world cup cycle and we want to correct that with five games heading into the world cup.” 

Tyler Ardron will captain Canada for the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup, which starts July 27 in Denver. That's where the team will face their historical rivals from the USA. Selection for the World Cup is yet to be determined.