The Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) said that it has been developing homegrown talents for future inclusion in the PRFU High Performance Programs.
The Philippine Under-19 National Development Team competed in a two-match international rugby game against the Hong Kong U19s Junior Warriors recently at Southern Plains in Laguna. The Filipinos lost to the visitors in both games.
PRFU Director Matt Cullen said the team is composed of 23 players selected from local clubs, schools and even orphanages during their trials throughout the country.
Among the most notable of the PRFU foundation programs are those held in Tuloy Don Bosco, Haven for Children, SOS and Bahay Bata.
“I have a positive feeling under this administration – in the next six years – we will see more Filipino athletes given opportunity,” Cullen said on Tuesday during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Shakey’s Malate.
Cullen explained that to develop local athletes to replace foreign players in the next five years, the sport must be developed from the grassroots level.
Cullen also lauded Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez on his vision for Philippine sports, “His (Ramirez) vision for youth sport is exactly what is needed. He said if you did a good job, if you fulfill your criteria, and improve your program, then we will progress.”
National team head Jake Letts, meanwhile, expressed his delight with PRFU’s initiative to develop the sport.
“After viewing both games in this development series against Hong Kong, I am confident to say these seven players have what it takes to achieve success at the next level of rugby. As a union, the PRFU look to inspire and provide a pathway [for players]to eventually become Philippine Volcanoes,” said Letts.
Seven players from the national development team have joined the Philippine U19 Junior Volcanoes that will see action in the Division 1 Asia Rugby Championships to be held in the country from December 13 to 17. The team will compete against South Korea, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates, with the winner gaining entry into the Asian U19’s Premier Division.