After successfully recently competing in four sevens competitions across England, the Volcanoes Development team will now switch to 15s rugby for an exhibition match against Durham University. Durham University extended an invite to the Philippine team as a pre season opener after being impressed with the atmosphere and team culture the players showed at the recently held London 7s.
The development program formulated out of the United Kingdom will feature 20 players of Philippine heritage, all vying to continue to represent the country on the field and build their rugby pathway to the premier team, the Philippine Volcanoes. A mix of current, past and new players will have the opportunity to put their best foot forward in the exhibition match which will be played in the North East of England.
“It’s great to capitalise on the momentum generated from the 7s program. Having close to 40 members in the squad allows the playing group to not only play 7s rugby, but to also play the traditional format of 15s. It also allows the union to capture members of the tight 5 which don’t always have the opportunity to showcase their skills at the 7s level. It’s going to be a great match up this weekend" shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
Some notable names that will feature this weekend include James Halasan Ryan, Craig Bayer Wallace, Raf Dian Zappia and Vincent Amar Young. All members that have represented the Philippines in the past. Some new names to the program will include Carlo Moriska and Salvatore Domingo who make their debut for the program. The exhibition match will be featured as a charity rugby match with all proceeds going to Movember to raise awareness for Men’s Health.
"It's another exciting weekend to be involved in with for Philippine Rugby. Our players look forward to the challenge against Durham. It's going to be exciting to see Filipinos across the UK team up once again to showcase their skills for the country and support Men's Health at the same time" shared Vince Amar Young.
The match will be played on Sunday 10th of October at 3:40 PM at Maiden Castle. The Men's 15s Program is supported by First Pacific and the MVP Sports Foundation.
This Sunday, Philippine Rugby and the Philippine Volcanoes launches their global talent identification and recruitment program. The first of 10 across the world, the Volcanoes national program adapt to the pandemic to ensure their rugby program continues to rise amongst the countries domestic challenges.
Philippine Rugby have had to halt their local domestic season and all contact training sessions since March 2020 when Covid-19 government restrictions stopped all local rugby activities. After eighteen months, the country still faces consistent and ongoing challenges in managing the pandemic.
Due to the reality of restrictions on the domestic side, the Union has diverted strategic decisions to focus on rugby participation internationally to ensure Filipinos are able to have access to play rugby, regardless of their location. A successful partnership with Brothers Rugby Club - Brisbane allows Filipinos playing rugby in Queensland access to the Unions high performance recruitment program. A number of successful players from Queensland Australia have represented the Philippines at the highest level, a pool of talent that has been identified.
“There’s approximately 12 million Filipinos who live outside the Philippines, a small percentage of those play rugby. We want to target these populations globally to identify, track, monitor and select those that show promise” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby and the Philippine Volcanoes.
The talent I.D and recruitment day tomorrow in Brisbane will act as the first stop of the global program. The same project will be made in NSW Australia, Auckland New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai, England, the USA and Canada over the next 12 months.
“We are lucky enough to have a global Philippine Rugby community, with a presence in each of these countries. We have called upon our Volcanoes Alumni to help assist with the program. Each program will be represented by present or past members of our Union. This ensures the quality of the program will not be lost and act as a model of reengagement in a time where the world has been halted” Letts added.
Philippine Rugby is expecting new talent to be featured tomorrow at Brothers with the program starting at 11:30 AM at Crosby Park, Albion. The two hour field session will be open to youth players from 15 years and above plus men and women. Registrations are still open and entry is free. Head to philippines.rugby for more information
Philippine Rugby would like to thank Brothers Rugby Club - Brisbane and all their sponsors for supporting this initiative.
The name Ryan Santos may sound familiar to the Philippine Rugby community that is because he’s a product of the grassroots and school rugby system in the Philippines. He is also the eldest of three sons to PRFU Secretary General, Rick Santos and his wife Bonnie. Ryan recently represented the USA U23 All American Collegiate team in the Rugby Town 7s at Glendale, Colorado last weekend.
“Ryan has always been a special talent. You could always see his talent developing from a young age. Holding dual citizenship for both the Philippines and USA we were always going to see him at the international level with a skill set such as his. He’s the Team Captain for Harvard Rugby so it was great to see him selected in the All American Collegiate team over the weekend” Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby shared.
Santos has developed his talents through the local Santos Knight Frank Mavericks Rugby Club in Makati, the International School Manila and the National Youth Programs of Philippine Rugby. He represented the Philippines as a national youth player on a number of occasions and has been earmarked as a player of the future for the Volcanoes 7s and 15s program. Ryan’s father, Rick Santos served as the Union’s President for a maximum term of eight years before being re-elected last year to the Secretary General post to continue to serve for Philippine Rugby. He also sits on the Development Committee for Asia Rugby.
“It is a true pleasure to see grassroots rugby and development growing and inspiring young athletes at the youth, high school, collegiate and national team levels. Ryan is a true product of the grassroots program in the Philippines and Asia. We could not be more proud,” shared Rick Santos.
Ryan has kept himself in rugby shape during the global pandemic, spending the early months of 2021 in South Africa at a 7s specialist training camp.
“Ryan is maximizing 2021; he’s invested physically in his strength, fitness and speed. Being exposed to a high level of competition and training environment in South Africa as well as recent tournaments in the US will ensure he continues to perform at the highest level. If Asia Rugby competitions proceed in November, be great to see him in action again hopefully once again for the Philippines” according to Letts.
Santos was selected alongside 12 others to represent the USA U23s; they finished Bowl Champions defeating the Sabercat 7s in a close final. Another Filipino American Sam Walsh of UC Berkeley was also selected in the team. Walsh scored two tries in the Bowl Final to help the U23s win their final match. Twenty teams competed with Samurai RFC claiming first place the US $10,000 prize money.
The fourth and final sevens tournament was the end of a busy five weeks for the Volcanoes 7s Development Team. The Philippine team fell short in all three pool rounds, 34 to 14, 33 to 14, and 26 to 12 in their final match. The competition capped off a remarkable effort, as newcomers to each and every tournament.
“It’s been a development program for all the right reasons, playing in these tournaments will pay off for our future national programs,” shared Vince Amar Young, Team Leader for the program.
The team blooded a staggering 27 players over four competitions, showing the global reach of Filipinos across the United Kingdom. “We have close to forty players registered in the program, close to 70% of our players were able to showcase their talent for the Philippines, something we didn’t think was possible 12 months ago,” added Young.
The program came to fruition after the global pandemic forced all Philippine Rugby competitions domestically and internationally to a halt.
“Before these competitions, the last Philippine Rugby game registered was in March of 2020. So it was 16 months since any official competition for our program was able to proceed. We needed to kick start rugby where it is allowed and where we could. Overall, the entire program has been a positive addition to our rugby calendar and the program,” added Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
As the sevens program closes in the United Kingdom, it opens up new opportunities in other countries of the world. “We will now look to focus on New Zealand, Australia, and hopefully the US and Canada for Q4 of 2021. I am fairly confident we will be able to enter and play in some more competitions in those areas of the globe. For our local players, we have our fingers crossed for Asia Rugby tournaments to proceed so our local national athletes also get the opportunity to play this year,” added Letts.
Domestic rugby competitions and community sport in the Philippines still remain on hold as all non-professional sports continue to be prohibited.
“We will continue to see the best avenues possible for our local rugby communities, a number of strategies exist however timing and structure will be the key. Some clubs are back to training where they are allowed which is good to see,” added Letts.
Philippine Rugby has scheduled a Talent Identification and Recruitment (TIR) day for August 29 in Auckland, New Zealand under former Head Coach Frano Botica. The recent announcement of the lockdown in Auckland may, unfortunately, postpone the event with a decision to make later next week.
The Volcanoes Development 7s team once again showcased some exciting rugby over the weekend at the London 7s in Chiswick.
The Philippine heritage team got off to a strong start against Nomads 7s winning a close battle 19 to 14. In the second game, both teams could not find an eventual winner with a 19 to 19 all draw against the Kew Occasional Rugby 7s team.
The Pinoys, unfortunately, fell short in their final game 19 to 14 and finished second overall in their pool round standings. The Volcanoes then progressed and faced OJ Renegades in the knockout rounds and went down 28 to 17 in a competitive game.
“Some very close games today; some went our way some others the opposition’s way. We had some great support on the sidelines, up to 400 people cheering on and watching the Philippines each game. A big thanks to It’s More Fun In The Philippines, the Philippine Embassy and Megaworld International for showcasing their support at this tournament” shared Vince Amar Young, Team Leader for the program.
The Philippine team blooded some new talent, Tomas Villalba Smith playing a promising role showcasing his skill set for the Volcanoes.
“Tomas was great; all the Villalba Smith brothers are exciting to watch. Tomas along with Jerome Padillo Rudder played outstanding. Ethan Cuison Chen also made an impact in his first tournament” added Young.
The Volcanoes team will back up their participation with their fourth and final competition at the Summer Social 7s in London this weekend.
“One more competition to go, it’s been a tremendous program for our Union to be involved in. The pandemic has forced no Rugby in the Philippines or in Asia for our Union, we are thankful and grateful we were able to play in the UK with our players residing there. Next year will be bigger and better, as we aim to fill a Women’s team across these tournaments as well” added Jake Letts, CEO for Philippine Rugby.
Philippine Rugby will be looking to use the same model in both Australia, New Zealand, and eventually the USA later this year.
“We are looking at three tournaments in Australia pending COVID restrictions, and also at least one in both New Zealand and the USA. Also looking to see locally how best we can get a rugby ball back and competition going in the Philippines. With the new ECQ restrictions in place, everything once again is withheld. Hoping to get through this so we can play again locally. Some local teams are back to training with LGU approvals which is great to see” Letts added.
The Philippine team will eagerly await their draw on Friday and be looking to finish the 7s season in the UK with a bang.
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