12 Nations have one chance to qualify for the HSBC 7s World Series. Picture: World Rugby
The Philippine Volcanoes, backed by Globe Telecom are less than 24 hours away before they kick off what is to be, the highest level of competition they have played since their debut at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in 2013.
The Volcanoes finished 3rd in the Asia Sevens Series last year, which have earned them a prestigious position in the World Series Qualifier division. Only two Asian nations have earned the right to play in this division. On one side, the top 15 teams in the world will be playing in Round 7 of the HSBC Sevens Series, where Hong Kong will be hosting the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. On the other side, the next best 12 teams in the world will be vying to qualify for the 2020 World Series, with the champion team being promoted to the top 15 teams in the world.
Team Philippines have been grouped with host nation Hong Kong, Tongaand Zimbabwe in the qualifier division. Team Captain Danny Bembo Matthews is optimistic about the teams chances. “We have played Hong Kong quite regularly in the past at the Asia Sevens Series, each year we get closer, so hopefully we can go one step further. For Zimbabwe, they have beaten us twice after the bell, so again hopefully we have the fitness to get one over them this time. For Tonga we know they are going to be a physical side so hopefully we can match them there and use speed as a difference”.
The Philippines have been in a nine day high intensity training camp, and are now in Hong Kong ready to take the field. Matthews had the honour to represent the Philippines amongst all captains for this weekends competitions. “To be captain is obviously a great honour, to actually be here doesn’t happen often, last time we were here was 2012, and we have the support of the whole Philippines behind us, we are very excited to have that”.
Coaches Frano Botica and David Johnston have selected the top 12 players to compete for the Philippines. Over the last two seasons the Volcanoes have progressed from ninth in Asia to third, with a pool of national players. The coaches have selected the top 12 players from the last two years who have all played consistently strong for the national team to handle the pressure and occasion of what may be, their biggest tournament to date. “It’s a special tournament, being part of the top 27 nations for Rugby sevens in the world will require our most elite and experienced athletes. In a division with teams such as Ireland, Russia, Germany and Tonga, the level is going to be extremely high, it will be an exciting challenge for the Philippines” shared Jake Letts , General Manager for Philippine Rugby.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman of Ayala Corporation was a special guest at the 2019 Players Presentation at the Globe Tower, speaking on behalf of Ayala and Globe Telecom who signed as the headline sponsor for the Volcanoes from 2017 to 2020.
The players selected to play in this weekends World Series Qualifier have been released.
Mark Mapacpac Roberts
Joe Palabay Dawson
Vincent Amar Young
Tim Alonso Berry
Jonico Ater Hardwick
Patrice Ortiz Olivier
Donald Canon Coleman
Daniel Bembo Matthews (c)
Ryan Reyes Howe
Justin Villazor Coveney
Robert Luceno Fogerty
Head Coach: Frano Botica Assistant Coach: David Johnston Strength & Conditioning / Performance: Chris Alamil Everingham Physiotherapist: Steph Yee
Friday, April 5: Vs. Hong Kong - 13:24 Vs. Tonga - 16:08
Saturday, April 6: Vs. Zimbabwe - 10:30
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
Where the world comes to play. The top 27 nations for Men's Rugby 7s will be playing in Hong Kong this weekend. Photo Credit: World Rugby