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.
Three from three in their last three games on Saturday saw the Volcanoes Development 7s team share the podium at the Cheltenham 7s last weekend. Two closely fought out matches saw the Philippines go down 20 to 19 against the Patriots, then 14 to 19 against Phystory RFC. The next three games however saw three straight victories and gave the team a third overall finish at the competition.
“It was a good way to end the tournament, going close in the first two games however a few errors were costly. Luckily for our team, we bounced back and played some good rugby to finish third out of the twelve teams that entered” Vince Amar Young shared, Team Leader for the United Kingdom program.
Will Obienta Anderson was voted player of the tournament along with strong performances from Rafael Dian Zappia and Charles Amistozo-Warren.
The Volcanoes Development team will push ahead and look for another strong performance this weekend, as they gear up for their third of four events at the London 7s. The Philippine heritage team will be boosted this weekend by the return of Sam Aquino Callaghan and Jerome Padillo Rudder, both key players to the program. Rudder has been in stellar form for the Volcanoes after his 2019 Asia Sevens Series season.
The team will also see the return of two former U19 nationals, Francis Glen Serafica and Ethan Cuison Chen. Making his debut for the program is Tomas Villalba Smith, following in the footsteps of his older brother Luc.
“This weekend will be exciting for the team; the London 7s will see a large number of teams and spectators. We have selected another strong and youthful team, as well as some new talent making their debut. They are being led by experienced sevens members Chris Arpon Bird and Vincent Amar Young. Hopefully, they can continue their momentum from last weekend’s results” shared Jake Letts, CEO of Philippine Rugby.
The team has also been invited to visit Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo at the Philippine Embassy in London who will be supporting the team by providing a national flag to showcase the Embassy's support. The Philippines have been named in Pool A and games are scheduled for 9:36, 11:06 and 14:42 local time.
For more information on results for this weekend follow Philippine Rugby’s social media account.
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