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
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