The Philippine Volcanoes, the National Women’s Rugby Team, are all set for their final preparation tournament for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. It couldn’t be better timing as it just so happens to be the Tokyo 2020 Regional Qualifying Tournament for the Olympic Games next year.
“This tournament comes around every four years, and it’s perfect as it leads towards our preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in December” shares Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
The Volcanoes are doubling down on the tournament this weekend as two other neighbouring southeast asians are also maximising the opportunity including Singapore and Thailand. It gives the Philippines a grading ground moving forward with the top teams in Asia. After a successful Trophy Series Gold Medal in August, the result has slingshotted the Philippines to the Top 8 in Asia, where they haven’t played since 2014.
“After a second place finish in the Trophy Series in 2018, the progression to a Gold Medal in 2019 was the next move in the right direction. Now we have the opportunity to show the top teams in Asia how far we have come in five years” added Letts.
Coach Fetala’a Taua has been instrumental in the teams preparation and is optimistic about the tournaments goals. “Our main aim for the event is to gain more international exposure for our development and to compete with the best teams in Asia”. Coach Taua along with his coaching staff have selected a strong contingent of players to perform for the Philippines, most evidently Aiumi Ono one of the countries most experienced players.
“After the huge success of Rugby World Cup in Asia there will be faster progress in the development of the sport. Our team will gain more popularity and interest which will lead to building much stronger asian teams in the future and in the Philippines” added Ono who will lead the side this weekend.
The Volcanoes have been seeded in Pool B alongside Kazakstan, Thailand and Singapore. Pool A consists of China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Korea. The team that wins the tournament joins Japan in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where the Runner Up will progress to the next round of Olympic Qualifications early next year. Matches are played this Saturday & Sunday in Guangzhou, China.
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