The SPI Philippine Volcanoes, finished the 2016 Asia Rugby Championships in third place after a heartbreaking loss to Sri Lanka in the closing seconds of the final match of the Division 1 championships held over the weekend at the Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur.
The Sri Lankans started strong and took an early lead with a steady 20 points to 11 lead at half time. The Volcanoes hit back in the second half with a late try by experienced back rower Terry Javier Carroll which put the Volcanoes within two points of the tournament’s number 1 ranked team with only 10 minutes remaining in the match. Captain Oliver Abalos Saunders converted a three- point penalty kick to take the Volcanoes to a 21 to 20 point advantage with 7 minutes remaining in the game. It was Sri Lanka however, who took the final lead with a try in the corner at the buzzer to finish the match 25 to 21.
The final result left the Volcanoes in third place securing their spot in Division 1 for another year.
“It was obviously gut wrenching to lose in the final play. The players rallied and worked really hard to grab the lead at the end. I’m so proud of the fight back the Volcanoes showed, and very proud to be involved once again with this national team,” shared veteran Volcano Jake Robrigado Letts after the match.
The national team successfully fielded eight debutants during the competition. Christopher Arpon Bird, Derrick DeGuzman Broussard and Andrew Pagalilauan Ramsden were first time caps in the 15-a-side code and showed glimpses of brilliance throughout the competition. The new players represent the next generation of Volcanoes and ensure the team’s continued growth and success.
“Finding talent in the national teams system is always an aim for the Volcanoes, having found and fielded as many as eight players in this tournament grows our playing pool and shows the depth of talent in Filipino heritage players both in the Philippines and abroad. The new players were very exciting to watch, ” said Matt Cullen, Director of Rugby for the Philippine Rugby Football Union.
The Volcanoes are now looking to prepare for their next tournament. The inaugural Manila 7s international invitational Rugby 7s event held in conjunction with JML Philippines on August 13 and 14 at the Southern Plains Sports Complex in Canlubang. Top level teams from New Zealand, Australia, Asia and England all look to compete at the highest level of competition to increase the popularity of the sport and attract popular Rugby playing nations to the shores of the Philippines to not only just compete against the Volcanoes but to also cater to the rugby community here in the Philippines.