Front row L to R: Luke Matthews, Patrice Olivier, Jaime Urquijo, Nick Perry, Michael Letts (Captain), Tyler Perez, Rupert Zappia, Nick Pineda
Middle row: Matt Cullen (Manager), Raf Zappia, Austin Dacanay, Michael de Guzman, Justin Coveney, Gaz Holgate, Chris Hitch (Vice Captain), Josh Sutcliffe, Damian Raper (Physiotherapist)
Top row: Jarred Hodges (Asst. Coach), Richard Taylor, Joven Clarke, James Price, Oliver Saunders, Kit Guerra, Matt Saunders, Michael Duhig, Phil Abraham, Jake Letts, Expo Mejia (Head Coach)
The Philippine National Men's Rugby Team travels to South Korea today to compete in the Division 1 Championships of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Tournament. The Philippines and Japan (Asian 5 Nations Premier Division Champions) are the only teams that remain undefeated in the Asian 5 Nations since the competition's inception in 2008. Playing with a 100% Filipino Heritage squad (defined as having at least 1 grandparent born in the Philippines), the Philippine Volcanoes will face their toughest challenge yet as the underdogs of Division 1.
Their first match will be on Wednesday, June 1 against tournament hosts, South Korea, at the Ansan Wa Stadium. Relegated to Division 1 in 2010, South Korea will be the Philippines' strongest competition, hungry to claw its way back into the Premier Division. The winner of the June 1 match will face the winner of the Singapore vs. Malaysia match for the Championship on Saturday, June 4. The winner of the Championship will be promoted to the Premier Division in 2012.
It has been quite a journey for the Volcanoes as the sport of Rugby in the Philippines is not widely known or played. Their unprecedented ascension from Division 4 to Division 1 has gone largely unnoticed in their home country, which is just now beginning to pay attention. However recognition has never been the Volcanoes' motivation -- the overseas-based players train on their own, then travel to the Philippines at their own expense, with just around a week to practice together before heading to a tournament. They sacrifice personal time with their families, vacation time from work and school, and risk injury every time they step onto the pitch. Composed of Filipino, Fil-Australian, Fil-American, Fil-Spanish, Fil-French and Fil-British players, they are a brotherhood of warriors whose singular vision and hope is to bring glory to their mother country.
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