Hong Kong - Four years ago the unimaginable happened, the Philippine Volcanoes were playing in a Rugby World Cup. It was the first time in 50 plus years a Philippine national team had progressed through the qualifier rounds to earn their right on the biggest stage. This was in 2013, the challenge now, can the Volcanoes repeat these efforts and qualify for the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup?
According to the qualification rules, only two teams from Asia will earn a position in the prestigious event. The World Cup is held every four years, (although it would have been five years since the last event) due to the fact Rugby 7s has now been re included as an Olympic sport. The international federation, known as World Rugby, chose to cater to the Olympic calendar years. This decision allows both the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics to act as world championship events, held evenly, every two years.
The 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup will be held in San Francisco, USA, from July 20 - 22. The Volcanoes, recently backed by Globe Telecom start their journey this Friday and Saturday in Hong Kong for the first round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series at Kings Park.
The Volcanoes have a new look team, a mix of Filipino youth, Philippine resident players and most evidently, experienced campaigners.
"I think we will surprise a lot of countries. We have a lot of new and exciting players that will only get better with experience. We definitely have the talent to be serious competitors in this year's Asian series" shared Sean Celada Lynch, the only remaining member in this team from the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup team. Lynch's family hails from Borongan City, Eastern Samar. His team mate Danny Bembo Matthews has been named Captain. Matthews has family ties from Alaminos, Pangasinan. Matthews lead the team in Qatar last February where he was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, guiding the Volcanoes to a Gold medal performance.
"We expect a high level of rugby this weekend. In February it was great to see our combinations come together. Teams will be strong here in Hong Kong. To qualify for the World Cup we have to beat the best in Asia so we can compete against the Worlds best. We are up to the challenge" shared Bembo Matthews.
The Volcanoes are seeded in Pool A against home town favorites Hong Kong, China and Malaysia. After day one, the teams will be re-seeded based on results. The second day consists of a cross over to play Pool B participants Japan, Korea, Taipei and Sri Lanka in the playoff finals. Japan finished 4th in the Olympic Games and are tipped to be hot favorites in Hong Kong.
The Asia Sevens Series will be held across three legs, with Round 2 in Korea on September 23/24 and Round 3 in Sri Lanka on October 14/15. The team will be coached by former New Zealand All Black Frano Botica.
Venue: Kings Park, Hong Kong
14.36 Philippines vs. China
16.44 vs Philippines vs. Hong Kong
19.36 vs Philippines vs. Malaysia
2017 Asia Rugby Sevens Series Team List:
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