The Rugby Development Manager for the Philippines, Acee San Juan, has recently been selected as an official Asia Rugby Unstoppable Ambassador for the region.
The Unstoppables Campaign is aligned with International Women’s month, celebrating and recognising the importance of women in the sport and how they have helped influence the development of Rugby across the region. A total of 84 nominees were nominated from across all countries in Asia, which was then brought down to 32, and a final nomination of 16 to represent the region.
For the last eleven years, Acee has been a dedicated member of the Rugby community. First introduced to the sport via a Touch Football program at the University of the Philippines, Acee went on to represent the National Team and became the Team Captain from 2014 to 2017, leading the national program to their first ever Bronze Medal at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.
In 2012 she was hired as a Development Officer and for the past four (4) years leads the development program as the Union’s Rugby Development Manager.
Acee has been tremendous to our Development Program, she’s a role model to all sports managers. Her passion, work ethic and expertise in her role have ensured Philippine Rugby continues to grow” shares Jake Letts, Philippine Rugby’s Chief Executive.
San Juan has been an integral representative for Philippine Rugby for the ChildFund Pass It Back Program, in charge of managing and teaching Rugby values and life skills to marginalized communities. Her dedication has enabled foreign sports development funds to be invested into the Philippines and in return, shows the positive impact sport can have on children’s lives.
She also plays a significant role within her local club, Eagles RFC, a loyal club member who continues to give back not only to the National Union, but also the local team where she represents.
"I'm deeply honoured to be named one of Asia Rugby's Unstoppable Ambassadors. I'm looking forward to encouraging more females to get involved and enjoy the sport, whether as a player, coach, match official, administrator, supporter - not just in the Philippines but across Asia as well. Rugby has given me so much in life and helped me develop to the person I am now, and I am excited to share these experiences to the wider rugby family. "
Letts added “witnessing Acee as a beginner of the game, and now a national lead educator, her advocacy covers a range of areas across the entire rugby community. She now provides direction on women’s rugby, grassroots development, safeguarding, match officiating, coaching, and training and education. To be recognised by Asia Rugby is a great achievement, and very well deserved” Letts added.
San Juan’s track record in the game and the sport ensures all participants, whether new or experienced, can have a positive impact around the country. Philippine Rugby is extremely honoured to have their Development Manager awarded and recognised as an ambassador to the sport.
The Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday 15 December. In accordance with the guidelines and protocols of the Philippine Government, the meeting was convened using Zoom technology allowing participants from across the archipelago to join.
The meeting was chaired by Jake Letts, PRFU Chief Executive Officer, and attended by representatives of 15 senior clubs and schools along with the 7 incumbent Board Trustees and PRFU staff and volunteers. The meeting was also graced with the presence of Valeriano “Bones” Floro representing the Philippine Olympic Committee, Commissioner Charles Maxey of the Philippine Sports Commission and Ghaith Jalajel from Asia Rugby – all key stakeholders and supporters of Philippine Rugby.
PRFU President Rick Santos made the opening address and thanked everyone involved in Philippine rugby for their efforts during what has been a challenging but successful year. Santos went on to confirm that his Presidency would end at the conclusion of the meeting having served the maximum term of 8 continuous years in that role. Since 2013, Santos has been at the helm of what has become one of the most successful National Sports Associations in the country. During that time, the national teams have delivered multiple medals from regional games, qualified for the Rugby World Cup 7s and the Hong Kong 7s, and dominated Division1 in the Asian 5 Nations – all of this was capped with the 2019 South East Asian Games on home soil, with the men taking gold and the women silver in one of the most successful campaigns in PRFU history. In addition to the focus on national teams, Santos has also championed rugby development, focusing on schools, grass roots and women’s programs.
Santos will continue his role as a Board member and was unanimously elected to the role of Secretary General of PRFU for the year 2021. Ada Milby was proposed for the position of President of PRFU and also unanimously elected by her fellow trustees.
Following the meeting, Milby commented: "Rick has led the PRFU through a journey of transformation to professionalize the Union and build successful national programs. It's this level of professionalism that has ensured the stability of the Union during this very challenging year of the Covid-19 pandemic. I'm thankful that Rick will continue to serve in the capacity of Sec Gen as it will truly take a team to get through these difficult times and his wisdom will continue to be an essential asset to Philippine Rugby. Rick is also now a member of the Development Committee of Asia Rugby and I look forward to working with him as we continue to build our local programs.”
Letts added: “Rick’s been tremendous for the PRFU, and serving an 8 year term as President speaks for itself. Luckily for the Union, he’s been elected to the role of Secretary General so we can continue to build on the legacy he’s created. He’s always been passionate about Philippine Rugby and, in particular, has been a strong advocate for youth rugby, sponsoring junior and grass roots programs and creating opportunities for young and underprivileged youngsters to prosper in our national programs. I look forward to continue working with Rick in building a successful organisation.”
Santos himself also shared: “A big thanks for everyone’s support over my last 8 years as President, and I look forward to building on the legacy of rugby development in my new role as Secretary General. Congratulations to Ada in her new role as PRFU President in addition to her continued roles in Asia Rugby and World Rugby. A huge thanks to all our Trustees, the organization and the entire rugby community for their help, dedication and great work. I am very excited about what the future holds for rugby at both the local and international levels.”
Ada Milby now steps up as the President of PRFU, and her current positions with Asia Rugby as an Executive Committee Member and World Rugby Council Member give her a unique perspective to drive the Union forward. Milby notes the importance of Rugby’s return in a COVID-19 environment:
“Our first priority will be to restart activities when restrictions lift with player welfare and community safety as the primary focus. We have a very robust “return to play” protocol prepared in line with global best practices and IATF guidelines. I am also hopeful that we can resume national athlete training in 2021 as both our men's and women's teams are competing at the elite level of Asia Rugby in the 7s format. From the success of the gold and silver medal performances in the 2019 SEAG, we want to ensure that we don't lose the forward momentum of those programs. It's a challenging time for all sports in the Philippines and we're very thankful for the continued support of the POC, PSC and all our sponsors and stakeholders.”
Rounding off the election Steve Payne will continue in the role of Trustee for Sponsorship, with Tim Kong Trustee for Performance, and Max Stewart as Trustee for Competitions. William Bailey was re-elected as Vice President and Treasurer, and Jaime Urquijo advising on Development, Sponsorship and Business Administration.
The Philippine Rugby Football Union’s Secretary General and national team member Ada Milby has been named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Rugby, by Rugby World magazine.
In the magazine’s latest August 2020 edition, Milby was selected for making an impact in the growth of rugby, through influential administrative positions for a number of elected seats she currently holds. Milby is the Philippine Rugby's Secretary General, she is also a Council Member for Asia Rugby and most recently, the first female elected to sit on the World Rugby Council. Milby is also a member of the Philippine Volcanoes 7s Team that bagged silver medal in the 2019 SEA Games and a Bronze medal in 2015.
More than 120 people were nominated, based on the recommendations from different stakeholders in rugby. "We believe our 2020 list of the 50 Most Influential People in Rugby represents all spheres of the game and acknowledges the work being done across the globe, especially as the sport looks to recover from the damaging impact of COVID-19,” said the publication of the list.
“It’s a big honor of course to be part of that 50 list,” said Milby, “I didn’t know that I was being considered so it was a surprise yet humbling experience. It’s an opportunity to raise the profile of rugby locally, that rugby is a viable option for Filipinos to play and excel in this exciting Olympic sport”
Milby admitted that this recognition could somehow lead foreign athletes with Filipino lineage to consider playing for the Philippine National team in upcoming international tournaments. An avenue that has been successful for Philippine Rugby and their recruitment programs.
UPDATE: February, 18 2021 - Philippine Rugby has released safety guidelines to all PRFU registered Rugby clubs in the Philippines. These guidelines have been formulated in relation to health and safety advice from the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) released by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, and the Department of Health. The advice also is in alignment to World Rugby's Return to Play.
Once the Philippine government eases restrictions in the local communities, clubs shall adhere to phases of Return to Play to ensure player welfare and safety are at the upmost of importance. It is important to note, all clubs and teams follow government guidelines during the following:
1. Enhanced Community Quarantine = no official team training sessions
2. Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine = no official team training sessions, individual only
3. General Community Quarantine = no official team training sessions, individual and conditioning training only with access to their own equipment
4. Modified General Community Quarantine = official team training sessions are allowed with sharing of equipment, healthy and safety measures in place and no contact drills.
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