Globe Ph Volcanoes select Top 18 for prestigious World Series qualifier

Philippine Volcanoes National Men’s Sevens Rugby Team

The Philippine Volcanoes National Men’s Sevens Rugby Team, backed by Globe Telecom and the Philippine Sports Commission, have selected their Top 18 for the upcoming 2019 World Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong to be played from April 5 to 7 at the Hong Kong National Stadium. The event is aligned and run in conjunction with one of the biggest events in Asia each year, the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Only two Asian nations qualified in 2019, this year it will be the Philippines and 2018 Asian Games Gold Medalists Hong Kong. The Volcanoes secured their place in the prestigious event after finishing with a Bronze Medal in Asia for the 2018 Asia Sevens Series.

“It’s a spectacular achievement for a young Union, we have only been part of the World Rugby group since 2008. So to qualify for the event for the second time, it’s a sign we are playing quality Rugby on the international scene” shared Jake Letts, the General Manager for Philippine Rugby.

The Volcanoes equaled their highest ranking last year since 2012, which was also the last time they participated in the same event. It was all confirmed last October after a string of successful performances. 2012 was the last year the Volcanoes finished on the podium in Asia however it wasn’t all easily achievable each year after. The Volcanoes found themselves ranked as low as 9th in Asia in 2016 before making progressive moves forward a year later. After 12 months the Volcanoes moved to 6th place in 2017 and finished third place overall in 2018 for their Asian ranking.

“It’s been a long and tough road, we have had our ups and downs like any sports teams. Looking back we achieved a silver medal in Asia in 2011, third place in 2012 and qualified for the World Cup in 2013. We then finished 5th in the Asian Games in 2014 then soon after finished with a Gold Medal in the Southeast Asia Games in 2015. 2016 was a rebuilding year with a lot of players in turnover. We found ourselves again in 2017 with a Gold Medal in the Asia Rugby Trophy Series and it’s proven now we have the talent to be back to our best” added Letts.

The Volcanoes have kept the services of National Coaches, former New Zealand All Black Frano Botica and Canadian national David Johnston to keep the progression forward. Both coaches have been with the program since 2016. The coaches have kept loyalty to the selection for the Unions big event, opting for 13 players from the original team that helped achieve the qualification in 2018 and adding three players from the 2017 group that helped start the progression from their Gold Medal win in the Asia Trophy Series. They have also selected two shadow players into the squad.

“The coaches have kept 13 players from the 2018 group, plus adding Daniel Bembo Matthews who was the Captain in 2017 but was unavailable last year due to injury. Joining Danny in selection will be Tommy Kalaw Gilbert who was also one of our best in 2017 but also suffered a long-term injury in 2017. In addition to these two, Patrice Ortiz Oliver returns to the program after settling commitments with his professional club in Japan last year. Plus we have an exciting young Jaime Chuidian graduating from our youth program who will add a fresh new face to the group. All in all, 18 players aiming to secure their position in the top 12 for the competition” added Letts.

The Volcanoes will have an 8-day high intensity training camp starting on March 22 for 16 players to begin with, before making a cut to 12 players for the prestigious event. Each player looking to prove themselves at the highest level.

The 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier Squad selected includes:

1. Christopher Arpon Bird
2. Daniel Bembo Matthews
3. Donald Canon Coleman
4. Edlen Cortez Hernandez
5. Evan Santillan Spargo
6. *Jaime Sebastian Antonio Chuidian
7. Jerome Padillo Rudder
8. Joe Palabay Dawson
9. Jonico Ater Hardwick
10. Justin Villazor Coveney
11. Mark Mapacpac Roberts
12. Patrice Ortiz Olivier
13. Robert Luceno Fogerty
14. Ryan Reyes Howe
15. Tim Alonso Berry
16. Timothy Bweheni
17. Tommy Kalaw Gilbert
18. Vincent Amar Young

(Two to be omitted for training camp)
*Denotes potential debutant

Head Coach: Frano Botica
Assistant Coach: David Johnston
Strength & Conditioning and Performance: Chris Everingham
Physiotherapist: Steph Yee
National Teams Coordinator: Prexie Halabi

2019 JML Premiership season opener set for February 9, 2019

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The Philippine Rugby Football Union will launch the 2019 domestic 15s season on February 9, 2019 at Southern Plains in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines. The JML Premiership Shield will feature eight teams across Luzon coming together for over 14 rounds.

The teams are ranked in one division across two pools based on their standings in 2018. The Eagles RFC are top seeds and will face the HMR Ibons, Clark Jets and the Manila Carabaos in Pool A while the Manila Nomads will be ranked top of Pool B to face the Santos Knight Frank Mavericks, the Albay Bulkans and the Makati Chiefs.

Local teams will be boosted by national player contingents. Some exciting talent will be featured each week  with the likes of Joe Palabay Dawson, Jonel Madrona, Lito Ramirez, Jeremy Hernandez, Nick Jones, Edlen Hernandez, Ian Pausanos, Reymarc Bustillo, Steven Near, David Feeney, Timothy Bweheni, Jovic Paypon and Ric Bellen, who are all key members for their local clubs.

“This year will be a first for the PRFU (to have) all eight Luzon-based teams in one division,” PRFU rugby development manager Jovan Masalunga said. “It’s going to be exciting to see each week. Teams will be seeded and ranked accordingly by the end of the regular season and it will break off to a Top 4 and bottom 4 for the playoffs. Only one team will be crowned Premiership champions.”

The 15s domestic season has a strong history for over 15 years with Rugby predominately starting from the Nomads Rugby Club. Come 2019, the club will feature three teams, two male and one female, a first in its history.

“Nomads Rugby Club has been around for decades,” PRFU general manager Jake Letts said. “This week, they not only continue their legacy but also add to it with the launch of their first ever 15s women’s team. It will be a special occasion for such an iconic club team in the Philippines.”

The women’s 15s division will see four teams vying for the title namely the Eagles RFC, the Makati Chiefs, the Santos Knight Frank Mavericks and the Manila Rogues. All teams face off in a round robin format before the final playoffs.

The women’s competition is equally exciting with the likes of Aiumi Ono, Rassiel Sales, Sylvia Tudoc and Hilla Indigne all taking the field for their respective clubs. An U19s Colts Division will continue for the regular season as both the Eagles RFC and the SKF Mavericks continue their programs with established player pathways for their Junior Programs, which is another positive development for the PRFU.

As the first week of the JML Premiership Shield kicks off at Southern Plains, the opening game will feature the Santos Knight Frank Mavericks taking on the Manila Rogues in the women’s division. For the men’s division, top seeds Eagles RFC will face the Manila Carabaos followed by the match of the day where the Santos Knight Frank Mavericks take on the Manila Nomads.

Games kick off from 12:00 p.m. It will be followed by 1:45 pm start for the second match and the final game at 3:30 pm.

Youth Rugby kicks off in the morning with the Junior Touch Rugby teams opening the day from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Entry is free.

U19 First Pacific Volcanoes secure bronze over China

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At 14 points to 0 in the opening half, the First Pacific Philippine National U19 Rugby Team, backed by MVP Sports Foundation, rallied together and fought their way back to record a third place finish in the 2018 U19 Division 1 Asia Rugby Championships last weekend, their best result in the last 5 years.

The Philippines faced a competitive China, it had taken the Junior Volcanoes 20 minutes to break the Chinese barrier to score their first points. The Volcanoes found themselves deep in Chinese territory when Tom Canon Coleman provided a strong ball carry to set up James Halasan Ryan for the first five pointer, with Owen Gasgonia Wakeham securing the extra two points. From here the Volcanoes started their comeback. Not long after, a clever kick from Matthew Imperial Davie had Wakeham scoop up the loose ball, beating two defenders and scoring another 5 points for the Volcanoes. After 31 minutes, Wakeham had kicked the extra two points and the Volcanoes found themselves back in the match at 14-14 at halftime.

“It was a spirited comeback in the first half, they showed patience and composure. It’s never easy coming back from two tries down, however credit to the team, they held strong for the first 35 minutes” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.

The Junior Volcanoes didn’t stop there, early in the second half after a brilliant set piece, saw Dean Dela Beeton scream onto a perfectly passed long ball from Davie and found the corner for the Philippines to take the lead for the first time after 40 minutes. Five minutes later Makati Chief Reymarc Bustillo was in again for the Volcanoes and the Philippines extended their lead to 26 to 14.

China however didn’t stop there, scoring a brilliant try out wide closing the gap to 7 points with still 20 minutes remaining. The Volcanoes had to hold strong in order to take the win. Off a set piece penalty, it was Craig Bayer Wallace who fought for every inch as he burst through the Chinese pack to take the Volcanoes to 31 points and Wakeham once again securing the extra two points. With time running out, this was enough for the Volcanoes to bag the win 33 to 19 and secure third place in 2018.

“A good result, the best result we have had since 2014. So that’s another positive for 2018, it’s been a tremendous year. Very happy they finished here on a win” Letts added.

Philippine Rugby ends their 2018 international calendar with another successful campaign, looking towards another big 2019 season. With Rugby Sevens in the SEA Games, earning qualification into the World Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong in April and Olympic Qualifications in November, the Volcanoes look to set for another competitive calendar for 2019.

Philippines’ First Pacific Junior Volcanoes set to tackle Thailand

The U19 Junior Volcanoes are proudly supported by First Pacific, MVP Sports Foundation and the Philippine Sports Commission. The teenage footballers are all set to take on the host nation Thailand in the opening match of the 2018 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championships.

Competing against Thailand, China and Singapore, the Philippines will face strong competition in the Division 1 series to see who will be crowned 2018 champions. The competition kicks off tonight at the Bang-Bon Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand with China playing Singapore in the first match followed by the Philippines taking on Thailand.

With players aged 17 to 19, the Junior Volcanoes is a rugby development program supported by MVP Sport Foundation for the Philippine Volcanoes. The young Volcanoes have been in an intensive training camp since Friday under Men’s National Coaches Stu Woodhouse and David Johnston.

“It’s always a much shorter and intense training camp for this group,” Philippine Rugby general manager Jake Letts stated. “Gathering talent from the Philippines and overseas has its challenges, especially with the timing of this program.”

“However, we know it’s always worth the investment,” Letts added. “Having our senior quality coaches here helps their preparation and enables them to fast track their learning process ahead of the competition.”

The U19s program for Philippine Rugby was first established in 2006. Since the program’s inclusion, several key players have gone ahead and graduated to the Men’s senior program, an outcome which is exactly what the program aims for.

Earlier this year, four players from Men’s 15s Championship winning Philippine Volcanoes team came from the U19s development program. Experienced players Gareth Dela Rosa Holgate (class of 2006), Daniel Bembo Matthews, Ned Plarizan Stephenson and Ricky Alarcon Kucia (all class of 2008) were all selected for the senior playing group and helped the Volcanoes to a first place finish in 2018.

“This program has always played an important role for the development of our national programs,” Letts said. “It enables our youth to have a platform to perform for the National Coaches and go on to represent the country at a senior level.”

“I have seen a number of remarkable players come through,” the Philippine Rugby general manager added. “It’s an important program we want to continue and invest each year.”

This year, the Junior Volcanoes will be looking at their firepower through brothers Jeromy Cairns and Manaia Zafra Cairns, both earning selection in the forward pack. The former earned Team Captain this year.

Debutante Tom Canon Coleman will be looking to impress further after earning the Vice Captaincy role for the national team. At flyhalf, Matthew Imperial Davie will lead the team around the field with the assistance of Jason Bonilla Schirmer at fullback.

Overall, the Philippines have strong mix of experience with new faces and will be looking for a victory in the opening match tomorrow against Thailand. The first match will kick off tonight at 7:15 pm MNL time, and be streamed live via the Volcanoes Facebook page.

First Pacific Volcanoes set for end of year internationals

The 2018 international season for Philippine Rugby continues this December 2018 as both the Women’s National Development Team, and the U19 Junior Volcanoes take the field to once more before the years end. 2018 for Philippine Rugby has been one of the most successful seasons to date with the Men’s National Program achieving success across all levels.

In a one off international exhibition match in April 2018, the Men’s Residents XV team defeated Guam. The Men’s 15s team was crowned Champions over Singapore in the Division 1 Asia Rugby Championships.

In the First Pacific Cup, the U19 National Development Team defeated the Hong Kong Junior Warriors. The Men’s National Sevens Team finished with a Bronze Medal in the 2018 Asia Sevens Series, achieving the third highest rank in Asia.

For the women’s program, a silver medal finish in the Division 1 Asia Rugby Women’s Championships in June 2018. An additional Silver Medal finish in the 2018 Asia Trophy Series in October 2018 also capped off a remarkable  international season for the Lady Volcanoes.

“It’s been a positive year for our international programs,” Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby shared. “We hope to add two more successful campaigns to finish off 2018.”

On December 8, 2018, the Lady Volcanoes development program takes on the Singapore Bedoks at Faith Academy. Both teams traditionally set for a close encounter.

“Last year, the Bedoks got away with a close win,” Letts shared. “Hopefully, this year our ladies can get one back. We are currently playing in top form, so hopefully we can finish on another high.”

The U19 Junior Volcanoes are also in preparation for an international competition. The youth program also backed by First Pacific and the MVP Sports Foundation is preparing for the 2018 Asia Rugby Division 1 U19s Championships in Bangkok, Thailand next week.

Rassiel Sales of the women’s program will as always be a threat for the Philippine attack. For the U19 Junior Volcanoes, Craig Bayer Wallace will return in a key role.

The Volcanoes will face host Thailand on December 11, 2018 in the hope to secure a place in the final against either China or Singapore on December 14, 2018. Letts sees it as more of an opportunity to scout future talent.

“The U19s program is very important to what our future holds,” Letts said. “These players will be the basis of our National Teams in the future. It’s a great opportunity for our athletes to impress our current national coaches at an international level.”

The U19s will be coached by Stu Woodhouse and David Johnston. Philippine Rugby has been fortunate enough to have First Pacific and MVP Sports Foundation as headline investors for these programs as they help support and pave the future for Rugby development in the Philippines.