Philippine Women's 7s Team Conquer the B Division at the Asian Women's Rugby 7s Championships
Lady Volcanoes' performance earns invitation to the 2013 Hong Kong Sevens
The Philippine National Women’s 7s team travelled to Pune India to compete in the 2012 Asian Women’s 7s Championships which was also the qualifying tournament for the 2013 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
After trekking 21 hours via Clark Airport, Bangkok and Mumbai the team arrived in Pune India on Thursday, Oct 4. The Lady Volcanoes had only trained together for a week leading up to the Asian Championships. The Philippines came up against the 2nd-ranked China in their first game and this was a hard opening game as the Chinese National Women’s team are all full-time professional athletes. The Philippines tried hard to break through the strong Chinese defense but were eventually worn down by their opponents who ran out winners by 29 – 0. Despite the loss, this was a vast improvement against the top ranked Asian team considering the last time the Philippines came against China, they went down by 56 – 0.
The second game of day 1 saw the Philippines come up against their South East Asian counterparts, Thailand which proved to be a tough encounter for the newly-formed Philippine team with Thailand capitalizing on some basic mistakes by the Philippines to run out winners by 24 – 7. These two loses placed the Lady Volcanoes in the B Division of the tournament with the top eight countries competing for the Cup and Plate and the next eight countries competing for the Bowl and Shield trophies.
The hard games on day 1 proved to solidify the Filipinas' resolve and they came out determined to win the Bowl Division trophy and claim the 9th spot at the Asian Women’s 7s Championships.
The Iran Women’s team had beaten the more favored India team on Day 1 and were looking strong coming into the semi final against the Philippines. Team Philippines pumped up for a physical encounter and Cassie Umali led the way with her courageous tackles which were well supported by Ada Milby who made some strong inroads into the Iranian defense. Finally, it was the Philippines structure and game plan that won the game with Marisol Linsteadt and Lelaine Martin both scoring tries to seal a comfortable win by 24 – 5.
The win placed the Philippines up against Sri Lanka in the Bowl Division final with the winner taking out the B Division of the Asian Women’s 7s championships. Sri Lanka were physically bigger and had more pace than the Philippines and coach Matt Cullen explained that possession and passion were the two main ingredients required to upset Sri Lanka in the Bowl Final.
The Philippines came out firing and again stuck to the structure that had proved successful in the win against Iran. Leilani Martin proved to be a handful for the Sri Lankan defense and constantly made ground as she drew in defenders to set up attacking raids for the Philippines. It was Co-Captain Aiumi Ono from the VisMin Rugby Club in Cebu who showed her natural talent when she split the Sri Lankan defense and scored under the posts to take an early lead. Aiumi then pulled off a great try-saving tackle to snuff out the only attacking raid that Sri Lanka had during in the first half. The Philippines then set about controlling possession in the second half and they did this with skill and enthusiasm and ran in another three tries to take out the Bowl Trophy and B Division Championships by 24 – 7.
This placing sets the Philippines up for an invite to the world famous Hong Kong Sevens International Tournament in March 2013. Coach Matt Cullen is confident that this young National Women’s team can improve on this ranking and equal the great feats of the Volcano men’s teams. He stated that the Women’s 7s program had only started in 2010 and did not enter a team in the Asian Championships in 2011. “They have already shown they can match it with the top teams in Asia. Winning the B Division at these championships will see the National Women’s 7s team win an invite to the Hong Kong 7s next March. If the team can attend more International Tournaments like this, then they will only improve to match it with the top teams in Asia”
Fiji emerged as the Cup Champions with China and Japan who all won spots to attend the Women’s 7s Rugby World Cup in 2013.
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