The Philippine Rugby Football Union is proud to announce a partnership with Pillar Sports.
The partnership will see medical, taping and strapping equipment provided to the National program to ensure the Volcanoes have top quality materials as they prepare for the 2021 Asia Sevens Series in Dubai this Friday and Saturday.
“The in-kind partnership is one we have looked at for a number of campaigns now, having the reliability of Pillar Sports and the number of top quality products they produce, ensure our players and our medical team can assist for a top level performance” shared Team CEO Jake Letts.
The Volcanoes have had a five-day preparation training camp at the Emirates Sevens Stadium in Dubai, the team starts their return to international rugby this afternoon.
“The preparation period has been short, but effective. We need these camps to ensure we can gel as a team. The equipment provided by Pillar Sports allows our players and management team to conduct towards a more professional stage, for a growing amateur program. Our medical team is able to do what they do best with the support from Pillar Sports” shared Letts.
Pillar Sports was founded in 2014, an Australian & Hong Kong-owned company based in Hong Kong. The company specialises in sports tape to ensure maximum durability and quality. The company partners with Philippine Rugby to help support international events as well as the domestic rugby market when they return to the field in 2022.
“We look forward to supporting Philippine Rugby, both domestically and internationally. It’s important to have high quality products, Pillar Sports remains reliable and trustworthy on the pitch” shared Brendan Ireland, Director of Pillar Sports.
The partnership is the first of a kind for the Volcanoes; the teams look forward to representing all sponsors today and tomorrow at the 2021 Rugby World Cup Asia Sevens Qualifier.
The women’s will take on Japan, Kazakhstan and Thailand, while the men’s will take on Malaysia, Korea and Hong Kong. All games will be featured live on Facebook from 4:15 PM Philippine time.
The Philippine Volcanoes have landed in Dubai to start their preparations for their first international rugby sevens event since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The national program has seen no international competitions due to the effects of the global pandemic; this week marks their official return to the international scene.
“It’s been a long time, but we are happy to be back and excited for a new chapter” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
The Volcanoes men’s and women’s teams have qualified for the 2021 Asia Sevens Series, which features only the Top 8 rugby nations across the region. The men’s have featured in the series since 2017 whereas the women’s gained promotion after their gold medal finish in the Asia Trophy Series in 2019.
In addition to formalising the 2021 Asian rugby sevens rankings, the tournament will act as World Rugby’s - Sevens Rugby World Cup Asian Qualifier, where the top two teams secure their slots into the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 2022. The Philippines Men’s team made this tremendous feat back in 2013 competing in Russia.
“It’s a big tournament, not only is it the first tournament back for majority of the Asian nations, it also has a big prize if you perform well, a ticket to the Rugby World Cup” Letts added
The Philippine team has selected a new crop of talented players, out of the 24 athletes 10 will be making their senior international sevens debut.
“There’s been minimal domestic rugby in the Philippines due to the pandemic and in addition having some of our national members unavailable for selection due to border restrictions, it has opened the opportunity for some exciting and talented new players to be recruited to put their best foot forward” Letts acknowledged.
The Volcanoes have been on a global recruitment drive during the pandemic, a strategy to ensure the Union continues to develop despite the tough restrictions the country has had during COVID.
The national program welcomes back Head Coach Fetala’i Taua’a for the women’s team after an extremely successful 2019 season securing a gold medal at the Asia Trophy Series and the country’s first Silver at the 2019 SEA Games. On the men’s side, a new coaching staff steps into the program with former Philippine Volcano Josh Sutcliffe who is the current Head Coach of Stanford Rugby selected to lead the program with another former Volcano Austin Dacanay assisting the men’s.
“We welcome Josh and Austin back into the program, both have represented the Volcanoes in the past. Josh has had a great depth of experience with USA Rugby along with leading the Stanford rugby program for the last 5 years. Austin’s experiences with the 15s will also no doubt benefit this playing group. Coach Fitz for the women’s will also be looking to take off where the program finished in 2019” Letts added.
The Philippines has selected the following 24 athletes to represent the Volcanoes at the upcoming Rugby World Cup 7s 2022 Asia Qualifier. The competition kicks off on November 19 and 20 and Dubai Sports City
Philippine Rugby successfully identified new talent at their recent talent identification and recruitment day at Brothers Rugby - Brisbane, with the next stop already lined up for Hong Kong.
The union held focused skills and speed session over two hours led by Volcanoes alumni Expo Mejia, Michael Estrada Duhig and Rob Benitez McCafferty. The session identified new recruits and gave the opportunity for new and returning players to be selected into the program for the upcoming international season in 2022.
“We had a great turnout in Brisbane, we knew we could find talent there and we were able to thankfully. Some future Volcanoes can now be led into the program over the next few years thanks to our support staff and the help of Brothers Rugby - Brisbane” Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby shared.
Some of the local standouts included brothers George and James Nield, along with Takian-Lani Buchanan and Alana Grace among others. The coaching staff also benefited from having local Brothers Rugby star Phoenix Hunt who assisted on the day and who also holds Philippine heritage.
"Having the playing calibre of Phoenix Hunt and his assistance was spectacular for the event, he's the type of player we would look towards in the future" Letts added. Some active Volcanoes Tommy Kalaw Gilbert, Jason Cale Schirmer and Steve Bernstrom also returned to the program after some time away due to the postponed international calendar.
After the event, Philippine Rugby will look at a possible representation match for the Hong Kong-based players which will ensure rugby continues to be developed outside the country as it still faces restrictions in the Philippines. The event will also be attended by long term development partners the Pot Bellied Pigs (PBP) who are a rugby club based in Hong Kong. The PBP raises funds each year as a donation given to seven rugby clubs around the regions to ensure rugby continues to grow across the provinces.
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