The U14/16 Junior Volcanoes have completed their second tour of Hong Kong, with both sides playing two matches. The combined scores across both age groups was 100 points For and 100 points Against! Only an accountant would notice that. But they were two very different days.
The detailed game reports are outlined further below, but for about half of the boys this was their first rugby tour and the bonds that have been formed will last forever. A combination of players from the Clark Rugby Club, International School Manila, British School Manila, EIS and Brent International School formed the core of the touring party.
Delayed for an hour by Cebu Pacific on the Friday evening, the touring party had dinner at the HK Airport and then enjoyed the hour long trip to the YMCA at Ma On Shan in the New Territories. Six to a room the boys were up early to a “not so sumptuous” Hong Kong breakfast.
With little time to consider the opulence of their surroundings the boys were soon on the bus again and off to Kings Park to confront the Hong Kong National Select Teams.
Game 1 – Philippine Under 14s National Team vs Hong Kong National Team Select Under 14s
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) were aware that the junior Volcanoes had enjoyed a couple of cakewalks last year, and accordingly they had selected the best of their juniors and even in the warm-ups it was obvious that we were going to be in for a very physical tussle.
The score was 31-7 to the Hong Kong boys with AJ Brown touching down for us and Kai Stroem converted the try. The U14s were generally very competitive for long periods in the match and played the game right out. The team made a good comeback in the 2nd half to score a try and at 3 tries to 1 we were again challenging the opposition line when they broke away for their fourth and decisive score.
AJ Brown was voted our best player by the opposition coaches.
Game 2: Philippine Under 16s National Team vs Hong Kong National Team Select Under 16s
As with the U14s the Hong Kong team was clearly a select bunch of the cream of Hong Kong rugby at this age level. Hong Kong were physically much stronger in most positions, and dominated the game. They scored early through a simple move through the backs, and the Phlippine boys knew they were in for a long afternoon. This was exacerbated when, at the same time during the first half, we lost our vigorous prop, Sabino Padilla, to what was later diagnosed as a broken arm. And Kaelum Madera took a knock to the head whilst making a brave mid-field tackle and could take no further part in the match. The final score was 62 – 0.
The boys never took a backward step and captain Tim Churchill was named our best player by the opposition coaches.
After getting confirmation that Kaelum was OK and that Sabino would need to return to Manila with his parents on the Saturday evening, the touring group travelled to our accommodation near Sai Kung, and enjoyed a well-deserved pool session, followed by dinner in the local Sai Kung village. The boys had some free time to roam around this charming coastal fishing village, but were home in bed before 10 pm, bruised but optimistic that fortunes would be more favourable the next day. And they were.
Game 3: Philippine Under 14 National Team vs Police Breakthrough/Kowloon Lions
The U14s were allowed to exhibit all their skills and put into place the plans that had been drilled into them by Coaches Melrose and Brown over the last several weeks, with the assistance of forwards coach Fergus Mitra.
Stamping his authority on the match Kai Stroem scored within the first two minutes and then the backs got to work with a try to AJ before Tito Hodgens also barreled over near the posts. Shams Shamsuddin scored an excellent individual try and at half-time the Volcanoes had taken a commanding 26 – 0 lead.
In the second half Josh Whyte was flinging the ball wide to the backs and it paid off handsomely with Pierre Delaport scoring, followed by Shams again and Mu Brown. Then came perhaps the highlight of the match when Jake Wahl discovered that running straight and hard is the forte of any second-rower and he scored two scintillating tries to put the icing on the cake.
The final score was 57 – 0.
Details of scores:
Tries: Shams (2), Jake Wahl (2) AJ O’Regan-Brown, Tito Hodgens, Pierre Delaporte, Mu Brown, Kai Stroem.
Conversions: Kai Stroem (6)
Coaches Award for the Tour: Andrew Melrose
Game 4 : Philippine U16 National Team v Police Breakthrough/Kowloon Lions
The opposition U16s were quite sizeable but did not match the skill of the Volcanoes, and although it took some time to break them down, Tim Churchill led from the front with the first of his two tries for the match. Kai Bechtel was then on the end of a slick backs’ move and then Dan Conboy sprinted through a maze of defenders for a scintillating score. At half-time the boys were comfortable 19 – 0 leaders. After another try to Dan Conboy, the second half moved into a more dour rhythm until Calvin Enderleich pounced upon a loose ball on his wing, sprinted to the line, took his time to decide he was indeed in the in-goal area, and touched down.
The Hong Kong Police boys scored a consolation try towards the end before Tim Churchill finished matters off. Final score was 36 – 7
Details of Scores
Tries: Tim Churchill (2), Dan Conboy (2), Kai Bechtel, Calvin Enderleich.
Conversions: Tim Churchill (2), Dan Conboy (1).
Coaches Awrad for the Tour: Armand Kaufmann
On the administration side, Junnel Palomata, organizing her second tour, was brilliant with her organization, liaison with the Consulate and her obvious caring attitude towards the boys. Thanks also to Rico Barin for supervising the physio side of things (much in action on the Saturday). James Gundry of Quest Philippines deserves appreciation for his generous tour sponsorship and cheers to Rick Santos, who stepped up early on with the juniors for PRFU via the CBRE sponsorship.
But finally, of course, well done to the boys. On the field – a very tough day on the Saturday followed by signs of immense character to bounce back with two solid wins on the Sunday, which made the trip back home more pleasurable.
Also a big thank you to the Pot Bellied Pigs who delivered four large boxes of new rugby boots for distribution to the PRFU Foundation clubs. Thanks also to the HKRFU for arranging the accommodation, grounds, buses and match officials and to the Police Breakthrough team, Robbie Mc Robbie and Steve Tarrant in particular for their hospitality on the Sunday.
The junior Philippine Volcanoes have again done the country proud.
Report by Peter Lawrence
More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/JuniorsHKTour2012
Only six years after fielding their first sevens team in international competition, the Philippines makes history by qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Entering the World Cup qualifying tournament ranked 7th after the three Asian ranking tournaments (6th, considering that Chinese Taipei did not participate in Singapore) the boys from the Philippines fancied their chances to live the dream of securing a Rugby World Cup Sevens spot.
The Philippines first game was against Guam and our nearby "cousins" had not been on the Asian circuit for a couple of years. They were to be reckoned with though as they had narrowly missed out on qualifying for the HK Sevens in 2010, and although they had been blitzed by Hong Kong in the first game of the tournament, they did manage to score a try against the tournament favourites.
However, the Volcanoes were not about to entertain an upset and came away with a comprehensive 33 - 0 win. Leading 21 - 0 at half-time, Coach Al Caravelli was able to use his entire bench in the second-half and he was particularly pleased that the opposition were kept scoreless. First half tries to Tim Bweheni, and two to Matt Saunders (who would finish with five of nine tries on the day) were followed by tries to stalwarts Andrew Wolff and Harry Morris. Oliver Saunders converted four of the tries.
With a quarter final spot already secured the next challenge was Hong Kong. Hong Kong's clinical re-starts weren't well handled by the Volcnaoes and, unable to get their hands on the ball, Hong Kong streaked out to a 17 - 0 lead early. The Philippines managed to compete more effectively after that early onslaught and the remainder of the game was played at 12 apiece showing that the less fancied team was starting to find their feet at this level.
In an adjusted format, which involved the playing of a quarter final on the first day, to keep the World Cup dreams alive the Philippines had to overcome a bigger and stronger Chinese outfit who had topped their group against Malaysia and Kazakhstan. The Volcanoes started strongly and Matt Saunders fended off a much larger opponent, leaving him floundering on the surface and then cleverly improved his scoring position which allowed Gareth Holgate to slot home the easiest of conversions. A second try to Matt Saunders took the Volcanoes to a 14 - 0 half-time lead.
The Philippines looked to seal the contest early in the second half and they had a couple of good opportunities but could not capitalize. As with the first half, the Pinoy defence was great, but China stormed back into contention with a converted try. In what seemed like a "minute of eternity" the game looked to be heading for extra time when the Chinese winger was striding towards the posts only to be cut down by a fabulous tackle by Joe Matthews. The drama wasn't over as the Chinese were awarded a penalty five metres out only for Harry Morris to step up with another game-saving tackle and the 14 - 7 scoreline meant that the Philippines had upset the seedings again and would progress to a semi-final against Japan on Saturday morning.
Many of the pundits in Singapore were expecting the Philippines to focus on the 3rd/4th match to nail a World Cup berth, but after challenging Japan in Mumbai three weeks ago, having them at 12-12 late in the game in India, the Volcanoes were determined to nail their spot in the semi final and avoid a sudden death match. However, as in Mumbai, Japan jumped out early and took a 12 - 0 lead, but a converted try to, (you guessed it) Matt Saunders right on half-time put the Philippines firmly in the match and, again with excellent defence, the score remained at 12 - 7 for much of the second half. A late try made it safe for the Japanese and they took the match 17 - 7.
Again, however the Volcanoes had demonstrated that they belonged on this stage, and they returned to the hotel to rest and focus on the critical match against South Korea who had been blanked by Hong Kong in the other semi-final.
After a monstrous downpour in the afternoon, and in front of a large crowd, and with Japan and Hong Kong already assured of their spots in Moscow for June 2013, the do or die match got under way with the Volcanoes fired up. Gareth Holgate, saving his best game to last powered over early, before Korea responded with a try to their speedy winger which took them into the lead. An exceptional short pass from Ryan Clarke to Andrew Wolff saw the big man scruise away to score under the posts, but in the heavy conditions, Holgate missed the conversion, leaving the score at 10 - 7. Before half-time Matt Saunders used incredible leg drive to beat off three attempts to tackle him and the conversion of his try took the Volcanoes to a 17 - 7 half-time lead.
After the break Matt Saunders made another break along the wing and a perfectly weighted inside pass found Gareth Holgate who scampered untouched over the line and many in the stadium thought the boys of the 7,100 islands were safe at 22 - 7. Nobody had told the Koreans that and they scored two tries, one of which was converted and the game was on the line, when Harry Morris made what turned out to be the last tackle of the match. The referee blew the whistle and the celebrations could begin.
Al Caravelli paid tribute to a culture among the Volcanoes of tightness with an incredible work ethic, a strong focus on defence and this amazing result is also a tribute to all those players who played in Borneo, Shanghai and Mumbai to ensure that the Philippines could have a reasonable seeding for the tournament that mattered the most.
The Philippine Team:
Coach: Al Caravelli
Manager: Expo Mejia
Physio: Rico Barin
Scores and details:
v Guam 33 - 0
Tries: M. Saunders (2), T. Bweheni, H. Morris, A. Wolff
Conversions: O. Saunders 4
v Hong Kong 12 -29
Tries: M. Saunders, A. Wolff
Conversion: G. Holgate
v China 14 - 7
Tries: M. Saunders (2)
Conversions: G. Holgate (2)
v Japan 7 - 17
Try: M. Saunders
Conversion: G. Holgate
v South Korea 22 - 19
Tries: G. Holgate (2), M. Saunders, A. Wolff
Conversion: G. Holgate
Photos by HSBC Asian Sevens Series
Photos of the Volcanoes' training session here
The Philippine Volcanoes Men’s Rugby team defeated South Korea in the battle for third place of the Singapore leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series on November 3 at the Singapore Padang. The win clinched for the Philippines the third and last Asian team slot for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
The Philippines started the competition ranked 6th in Pool A with Hong Kong (ranked 1) and Guam (11). After thrashing Guam with a 33-0 victory, the Volcanoes bowed to Hong Kong 29 – 12 to set up a Quarter Final battle against China. A nail-biting 14-7 win over China placed the Philippines in the Semi-Final versus Asian Rugby powerhouse, Japan.
The 7-17 defeat to Japan meant the Volcanoes needed to beat 4th ranked South Korea in order to finish third in the tournament and book their place in the Rugby Sevens World Cup to which Japan and Hong Kong had earlier qualified. The Philippines went into half-time with a 17-7 lead but South Korea battled back in the second half. The Volcanoes held strong and the match ended with a final score of 22-19.
“It is just fantastic that we are going to the World Cup. This is the first time that the Philippines will be playing in a World Cup and it is huge feat for us,” said team captain Harry Morris.
“The third/fourth match was definitely closer than I wanted it to be. I give credit to the players for doing this for the nation,” said Coach Al Caravelli. The American coach was the former coach of the US National Sevens Rugby Team before being tapped to head the Volcanoes in August.
This latest milestone is the 3rd in what has been the Volcanoes most successful year in its existence. Starting 2012 with a debut in the prestigious Hong Kong 7s International Tournament in March, they then went on to win Division 1 of the Asian 5 Nations tournament in April placing themselves among the top 5 elite teams in Asia.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens will be held in Moscow, Russia in June 2013. It will be the sixth edition of the tournament and most probably its last as Rugby Sevens will now be an official sport in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
For a details on each of the Philippines' matches, photos and videos, please click here.
Stay connected with us!