With the pandemic consistently affecting Rugby participation in the Philippines and across Asia, Philippine Rugby has adopted a key strategy to ensure Rugby remains active within the organisation. The Volcanoes have a unique position as a number of players are based both within the country as well players based abroad. The pandemic has provided alternative ways to develop a global pool of players and the Union will now lean towards investing in participation outside traditional national and international competitions.
“Covid-19 has had a drastic effect on our game both domestically and globally. We have identified some countries are in a position to handle the pandemic better than others. This allows an opportunity to invest in a global pool of players to play abroad whilst also wearing and representing the nation in Philippine colours” CEO Jake Letts shared.
The Volcanoes traditionally play in 10 international events each year across both the men and women's programs. The last time the national programs played was in December of 2019, the men won gold and the women secured silver in the Southeast Asian Games. “It’s been 18 months and our players haven’t been able to return to the field as a national program so we are looking at alternative ways to keep their combinations together as well as have new opportunities for new players to represent our national colours” Letts added.
This weekend the Volcanoes Development team will field 12 athletes who are under their global pool of players. Each athlete is Filipino by blood and lives and resides within the United Kingdom and is therefore allowed to play contact sports. The program will be backed by Union sponsors and partners to ensure Rugby participation remains active for Philippine Rugby. The Volcanoes Development team is in Pool C alongside Burton RUFC, North Wales Exiles, and the Sons of Lazarus. The Macclesfield 7s is an invitational rugby sevens competition that allows a mix of teams to register to play in the competition.
“Our players are super excited for this weekend, we cannot wait to represent the Philippines, and to do so in the United Kingdom is a first. I have played alongside a number of the players, it’s also great to see some new faces in the team” Philippine Volcano Vincent Amar Young shared. The team will feature additional capped Volcanoes including Christopher Arpon Bird, Sam Aquino Callaghan and Luc Villalba Smith. It will also feature Junior Volcano representatives Craig Bayer Wallace, Raphael Concepcion Barberis alongside Chris Monponbanua Ramones who all featured in the U19 National Programs in the past. Some new faces to the program include Richie Mabugat Lewis, William Obenieta Anderson, Charles Amistozo-Warren, Nathan Mirote Bellenie and Lucas Pablo Hill. This competition will be the first of four competitions the Volcanoes Development team will enter across the sevens season and see additional players eligible for selection.
On a domestic front, Philippine Rugby are still trying to find the best way for the game to return. The Union has an uphill battle with all community team sports still prohibited by government restrictions. “It’s been very difficult for all sports to return in the pandemic. Our Union is looking at alternative ways to ensure our locally based players do see the field as a team at some point this year. We have looked at bubble concepts with local clubs, we are also looking at sanctioned international competitions where Philippine-based players can travel to play if given permission to do so” Letts added.
The Macclesfield 7s will be played on July 10 at Priory Park Macclesfield. The Volcanoes will play at 11:00 AM against Burton RFC, 12:00 PM against Sons of Lazarus and 1:00 PM against North Wales Exiles. The finals will be from 2:00 PM onwards.
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