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
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