The PRFU were delighted to be invited to the 2012 Philippine National Games(PNG) by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee. The games were held at in Sta Cruz, Laguna and Governor Jorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan was extremely supportive to host the Rugby 7s event and showcase this Olympic sport to everyone at the newly renovated RECS Sports Stadium.
Eight Men’s teams and three women’s teams registered to compete for the inaugural Philippine National Games Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. The Men’s Division had the Eagles, Ibons, Bison/Tarsiers, Globe Immortals, MAAP Warriors, CBRE Vipers and Mavericks, Clark Rugby Club teams in competition, while the Women had Team Xena, MAAP Lady Warriors and Nomads.
It was an early start with the PRFU supplying a bus for the participants to make the three hour journey south. The sun was shining and temperatures soared to the high thirties as the teams took the field to play Rugby 7s in the aim of winning positions for the upcoming SEA Games, which will be held in Myanmar in 2013.
Rugby 7s is an exciting sport and promotes action, speed, agility and teamwork and is a perfect sport for any young Filipino athletes who enjoy the challenge of playing a dynamic contact sport. The PRFU restricted participation to the PNG Rugby 7s tournament to Filipino Heritage players only. It was exciting to see over 150 Filipino athletes take the field to compete to become the top Rugby 7s teams in the country.
The Men’s competition saw the teams do battle in a round robin format and then break into A and B Divisions for the finals. The Alabang Eagles were ranked the number one team entering the competition and they would have to face some formidable opponents in the top division. The semi finals were the Eagles against the newly formed CBRE Vipers, which the Eagles won to move through to the final.
In the other semi-final the young guns from Clark Rugby Club (CRC) who were all ex Bahay Bata orphanage players proved that size in Rugby 7s is not everything as they ran around their opponents displaying deft rugby skills and teamwork. Displaying excellent teamwork, the 16 – 18 year old Foundation players defeated their bigger and older opponents, the Globe Immortals, to set up a David and Goliath encounter in the Men’s A Division Gold Medal game.
On this occasion, it was the Eagles who proved too strong for their younger counterparts and they won the inaugural PNG Final by 29 – 5. The Eagles thoroughly deserved this win and have written their names in the history books as the first Men’s team to win a PNG Gold Medal in Rugby 7s.
The Men’s B Division Final was played between the MAAP Warriors and the newly formed Rugby 101 club the Bison-Tarsiers. It was a tribute to see the oldest Filipino Rugby Club, the MAAP Warriors play in this final, especially when they had travelled overnight all the way from Bataan. The MAAP Warriors had shown glimpses of brilliance throughout the round games and stalwart coaches Rick Hartley and Tony Shibley worked with the players to tighten up the defense for the final. This tactic certainly worked as MAAP ran out winners by 22 – 5. It was a great victory for the Warriors and is a tribute to the pioneer Filipino Rugby Club that they won their first ever PNG medal.
The Women’s Final was the best game of the day. Both the Nomads and Team Xena sides had several National Team players and this proved to be the ingredient for an exciting and competitive final. Both sides were locked at 7 all at the final siren and it wasn’t until National team legend, Manila Santos, broke through the Nomads’ defense in extra time to score a runaway try from 60m out. The Golden Point gave Team Xena the Women’s Division Gold Medal.
The PNG allowed the PRFU to showcase the growing sport of Rugby 7s and the Filipino athletes were extremely proud to compete to win National PSC medals. Rugby 7s is now played at the SEA, Asian and Olympic Games, and the PSC are looking to build further Rugby 7s programs to claim medals at these events.
The PRFU would like to thank the Philippine Sports Commission for the inviting Rugby 7s to be a sport at the 2012 Philippine National Games and Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan for hosting the tournament at the world class RECS Sports Stadium in Sta Cruz Laguna.
Both PSC Commissioner, Jolly Gomez (PSC Commissioner) and Governor ER attended the PNG awards ceremony and were delighted at the level of skill, participation and sportsmanship displayed by all the Filipino teams that played in the 2012 Rugby 7s Philippine National Games tournament.
Official PNG results that are registered with the Philippine Sports Commission for 2012:
Photo gallery (all photos on this page by Michael Fernandez)
Some may say we saved the best for last, especially the Welsh.
The Bahay Bata team travelled to the world famous Millennium Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park which is located in Wales, the trip across the border from Bristol to Wales took one hour. Coach Cullen had arranged to meet ex Wales National Team player and mate, Peter Rogers who played in the very first game at the Millennium Stadium in 1999 when Wales upset the then World Champions South Africa. Peter had arranged a free tour of the Welsh stadium and took time out to join the tour and give the boys a firsthand encounter of what is like to play for your country in such a majestic ground. The boys all agreed that the Millennium stadium had more atmosphere than Twickenham and they enjoyed the first class tour of the stands, hospitality boxes, royalty seats and changing rooms.
Peter Rogers, who played prop for Wales, then escorted the team into the city of Cardiff, to the traditional markets and Cardiff Castle. The boys enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of Cardiff and ate lunch in the park whilst feeding pigeons and seagulls.
The day ended with the formal farewell back at Clifton College, each of the boys personally presented and thanked their host families with flowers and thank you certificates, as expected there were tears and the Clifton students and parents had obviously become attached the Bahay Bata boys during the 10 day home stay.
Gifts were exchanged and Clifton College Principal Mr. John Milne praised the Bahay Bata boys for their exemplary behaviour and invited the PRFU to bring another group of boys to visit Clifton College in 2012, which is a special year for the Clifton College as they celebrate their 150th anniversary.
It was also fitting that ex British Lions player John Bentley attended the ceremony and spoke highly of the Bahay Bata Foundation and Rugby Development in the Philippines. He explained how he had visited the Philippines on numerous occasions and gave talked about the problems faced in a developing country such as the Philippines. It was great to see John Bentley supporting the PRFU in his home country and we look forward to seeing him again at next year’s Manila 10s.
The following morning, the Bahay Bata boys were very sad to leave the school and the whole group hugged and thanked their Clifton College friends.
Over the last 10 days the Bahay Bata team have learned about the English and Welsh Cultures, played and won Rugby and visited some of the most famous sights and Rugby Stadiums in the United Kingdom. This certainly was the trip of a lifetime for the young Rugby players and it is noticeable that they have grown and benefited from this amazing trip abroad.
This is Rugby Union grassroots development at its very best and everyone who was involved in the tour came away with new friends and positive experiences.
The Bahay Bata boys spent the day with their host families and attended the daily classes at Clifton College. The boys had to partake in the various subjects at Clifton and this would be a different format than what they are accustomed to back in the Philippines.
After the lunch break the Bahay Bata boys had their first ever swim at the Clifton College indoor swimming pool and enjoyed the heated pool and indoor swimming facility, they knew exactly why England has indoor swimming pools -- the weather.
The team then prepared to play the Clifton College U14 A-team and knew that this game would be a tougher encounter than the victory they enjoyed over the B-team on Tuesday. The teams were evenly matched and the Clifton College team had prepared for the Bahay Bata playmakers. Fortunately, the sun was shining and unlike Tuesday’s game the boys were able to throw the ball around without the pressure of the wet conditions and a slippery ball.
It was Bahay Bata who came out firing in the second half with Neil Garcia scoring on the back of some solid forward play to take the lead 15 – 10. Kingsley Ballesteros was playing the game of tour as he consistently ran the ball forward engaging the Clifton defense and continually recycling the ball to set up attacking raids for the Bahay Bata backline. It was the Bahay Bata speedster John Mark Manaloto who was able to step around his opposite winger to score taking Bahay Bata’s lead to to a commanding 20 – 10.
The Clifton College team suddenly realized that they were at the hands of defeat and reacted with force and drove the Bahay Bata team deep into their own territory and eventually scored a try 20 – 15. The Clifton team knew they that there was only minutes left in the game and they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Bahay Bata defense. This paid off with the Clifton College halfback diving over to score from the base of a ruck to equalize the game at 20 – 20 on the fulltime whistle. He then had to kick the conversion to win the game and level the series at one all, fortunately for the Bahay Bata team, he missed the conversion and the game ended in a draw. As Bahay Bata had won the first game by 20 -0 they were awarded the inaugural Clifton Cup.
Clifton College principal Mr. John Milne praised the efforts of both teams and challenged the Bahay Bata team to return next year to defend their trophy.
Day 6: Aboard the SS Great Britain
In the morning before the game vs. Clifton College, the boys were able to meet up with Touraid President, Andy Berry, who explained that the Bahay Bata tour was the 50th tour and had a special place in his heart. The whole group toured the SS Great Britain and Coach Cullen was able to trace some of his ancestral lines in the ships log book, finding 12 Cullen's who were on the original trips to Australia, in all the SS Great Britain made 32 epic voyages to Australia between 1877 and 1898. The ship has been fully restored to its magnificent grandeur and the boys were able to discover what life was like for the early settlers traveling to Australia.
Day 7: Twickenham and Sightseeing in London
The Bahay Bata group traveled across England to visit Twickenham Stadium, the journey took 2.5 hrs and the boys were taken on a 1.5 hr tour of the stadium which included the President’s Board Room, Nike Corporate Box, England’s changing rooms and running through the tunnel to enter the hallowed turf. The boys were amazed to sit in the top row of a stadium that holds 82,000 and they felt as though they were on top of the world as they gazed down upon the perfect green pitch.
The Stadium tour was arranged by ex-Clifton College teacher and current RFU Head of Elite Rugby, Mr. Kevin Bowring who joined the tour and was impressed to hear that Rugby Union was flourishing in the Philippines. The boys sat in the England players’ individual changing room places and Coach Cullen addressed the team with a old fashioned team talk about the upcoming game against Clifton College. The boys lined the sideline of Twickenham and imagined what it would be like to play in front of 82 ,000 screaming England fans.
From here the group traveled into the center of London to meet the Philippine Ambassador, Mr. Reynaldo Catapang who had visited the boys at Clifton College on Sunday and had invited them all to his office that is situated in between Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. The Ambassador welcomed the boys at the front of the Embassy and in true Filipino style made all the boys feel like diplomatic guests, showing them around the offices and inviting them to sit and eat with him at the Embassy’s large dining table. The lunch was typical Philippine style, Pancit, Chicken and Boiled Eggs. After eating British cooking for the last week, the boys enjoyed the opportunity to indulge in a taste of home. The Ambassador then explained that he was exceptionally proud of the Philippines victory over Clifton College and awarded each player a 10 GBP note to spend while on tour in England.
It was with pride and pleasure that Coach Cullen was also able to introduce current Philippine National Men’s 15s and 7s player, Harry Morris was able to take time out to visit the Bahay Bata team and meet the Filipino Ambassador. Harry has been representing the Philippines since 2007 and he and his bother, Freddy have played over 16 combined Test Matches for the Philippines, winning in 15 out of 16 games in the last five years. Harry is Filipino-Welsh and has recently relocated from Wales to London, so it was a notable gesture that he took time out of his busy schedule to come and meet the Bahay Bata boys.
The ambassador then walked the group through Trafalgar Square and directed them onto the world famous London Eye. Unfortunately because of meetings he could not join us, but he waived the boys goodbye and wished them well with their next game against Clifton College.
Coach Cullen thought he was back playing Monopoly, as the group walked past Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square to the edge of the Thames were they finally saw the London Eye. The boys were amazed at the size of the massive ferris wheel and ran across the Westminster Bridge to line up for the ride of a lifetime. Once upon the London Eye the group were then able to recognize several famous London sights that included, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and of course the iconic Big Ben clock tower.
The day ended with a long and sleepy ride back to Bristol and the Bahay Bata boys dreamt about their day visiting some of the famous sights in London and one of the great Rugby Stadiums in the world.
Day 4 : Chapel Service and meeting the Phil Ambassador to the UK
The day began with a chapel service in the Clifton College chapel, which could easily be compared to a small Cathedral in most other countries. The Chapel was built over 120 years ago and is steeped in history, with tall ceilings, stain glassed windows and a pulpit that would match Westminster Abbey.
Photo credit: Jessica Zafra
The host families decked the Bahay Bata boys out in full Clifton College school uniforms which included, long trousers, Vests, Dress Shirts, Blazers and Clifton College Ties. The Bahay Bata boys looked a treat and all of the boys explained that they had never worn a tie before. The Chapel service ran from 11am to 12nn and the collection was donated to the Bahay Bata foundation. After a rousing service all the parents and children congregated outside the chapel in front of the main Clifton College field where they would be playing the fun day touch football tournament in the afternoon.
The afternoon fun day began with all the children being split into different teams, mixing the Bahay Bata boys amongst the Clifton College teams. The afternoon was also a fundraising activity for both the Bahay Bata trip and the Clifton College u14s Rugby tour to Australia. James Breeze and John Digby from Clifton College arranged a wide range of fun activities including old English stocks where the students were able to take revenge on their teachers.
The Philippine Ambassador Mr. Reynaldo A. Catapang travelled from London to Bristol to join the fun day activities and watched the Bahay Bata team defeat the Clifton College u14s team in the Touch Football Tournament, he was delighted to see the young foundation children in England and could not believe that they played Rugby so well and instantly invited the team to visit him at the Philippine Embassy in London this Wednesday when we visit Twickenham Stadium.
The day was another amazing success and once again the boys from Bahay Bata thrilled the crowd with their attacking skills and flair in the touch football tournament.
Day 5: A Trip to Western Super Mare
The Bahay Bata boys enjoyed a day trip to Western Super Mare (locally nicknamed Western Super Mud) which is a quaint seaside British town situated 40 km south west of Bristol. Clifton College arranged for the Bahay Bata boys to visit the famous Grand Pier at the beachside and provided free rides and activities for all the players to have a fun day at the theme park, which is situated at the end of the 200m long Pier.
The boys arrived at the Seaside and Coach Cullen challenged them to don their swimmers and have a dip in the North Atlantic Ocean, to his amazement there were no volunteers. After taking a stroll along the promenade and observing the differences between the Pacific Ocean waters of the Philippines and the North Atlantic Ocean, the boys were entertained at the Pier Theme park.
The theme park included various old fashioned rides and of course the bumper cars and the house of terror stole most of their attention and money. It was extremely windy at the beach and the boys were happy that the theme park at the end of the Pier was enclosed, we all ate a good old fashioned English lunch of “Fish n Chips” followed by freshly cooked sugar donuts.
The team then travelled back to Clifton and held their last training session from 3pm – 5pm before their first game against Clifton College. So far the Bahay Bata boys have been able to display their skillful touch Rugby talents, but the boys will certainly have to focus on their defense to stop the bigger Clifton College team. The games against the British School Manila and ISM will certainly pave the way for the boys to take on Clifton College.
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