The Philippine Volcanoes, one of the competitive rugby teams in Asia is capable of Top Four finish in the Hong Kong Olympic Qualifiers on November 7 to 8, according to its team captain Jake Letts.
“We have a strong chance of reaching the Olympics next year because everyone is injury free,” Letts, 27, told The Manila Times during a press conference organized by Megaworld Lifestyle Malls on Thursday at the McKinley Hill Showroom in Taguig City. “The competition in Hong Kong is a great opportunity for our team to qualify to the top four and remains one of Asia’s powerhouse [rugby]nations.”
Philippine Volcanoes head coach Matt Cullen said that the second, third and fourth finishers in the men’s and women’s rugby seven would move to the final round of Olympic qualification meet in 2016 before clinching a slot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
If the Philippines ruled the tournament, the Volcanoes will automatically enter the Olympics.
“We are confident that we can make it to the top four in Hong Kong because we’re already respected by other countries as a strong rugby nation,” said Cullen. “The condition of our athletes is also fine and the training looks great.”
Letts said that the Philippine Volcanoes would be up against the seven best rugby-playing nations namely New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong Japan, Russia, Fiji Island, South Africa and Samoa.
“The Olympics is going to be the highest level of rugby competition. But we are going to do our very best first to qualify. We have 24 players so far in the pool but only 12 will go in the Olympic qualifying.”
The 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games champions Volcanoes and Megaworld also announced their partnership naming the McKinley Hill Stadium as the team’s new home. The Philippine Volcanoes women’s rugby team finished third in that same meet.