PH rugby teams brace for international campaigns

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Philippine national rugby teams will participate in several international competitions in preparation for the 2017
Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Actually, our preparation started when we returned from SEA Games last year. After we won bronze, we know that we have to defend that and to do better in the next SEA Games,” said Lady Volcanoes captain Angella Camille San Juan on Thursday during a news conference .

The Lady Volcanoes will compete in the Bangkok 7s from November 12 to 13.

“This year, we will start with the development team whom we’ll send to Bangkok. It would be the first time that a development team will participate in this tournament. And hopefully next year, they will be part of training pool for Team A,” San Juan added.

The men’s and women’s rugby squads will join the two legs of the Asian 7s Series that will be held in India and Dubai in February 2017. The Volcanoes will also battle in Malaysia in March 2017.

“We’ll compete in the SEA 7s in April so we’re gonna be against all the fastest Southeast Asian nations. That will be a practice for SEA Games,” said Volcanoes captain Jake Letts.

The Volcanoes bagged the gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, while their female counterparts notched a bronze, bowing down to Singapore, 7-10.

The Philippines men’s team will host the 2016 U19 Asia Rugby Championships in December where Korea, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will participate, while the women’s team will battle Hong Kong in U19s National Development Series for the first time in Manila on January 26 and 29.

Matthew Cullen, the director of Rugby for the Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU), said that the number of Filipino athletes trying the rugby football is growing.

“We started five years ago with all overseas Filipinos. Now, it’s 50-50, half of Filipinos from here and half abroad. And then after five years, they’re all from here. It just takes time,” said Cullen.

He added that the national program for the sport has reached different places in the country.

“We have programs in Baguio, Laguna, NCR, Subic, Clark, Albay, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Palawan, and Bacolod. And four years ago, we only had two programs, Manila and Cebu. We’re providing training, coaching, equipment for these kids to learn the sport. And you’ll see a lot of Filipino kids getting opportunities.”

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