Junior Volcanoes outmuscled by Sri Lanka, settle for silver medal in U19s Division 1 Asia Rugby tourney
A scene never recorded in Philippine Rugby history, saw the U19 national Rugby team defeat Thailand at the jaws of defeat. The Volcanoes had been tested throughout the entire match by a strong Thailand outfit. Thailand seemed to have the momentum for the majority of the match however the Philippines never backed down. Owen Gasgonia Wakeham scored early in the match which he then converted however Thailand struck back with three consecutive tries and continued to pile on the pressure in both attack and their set piece structure. The Philippines showed glimpses of brilliance in attack and kept defending with quick line speed to hold themselves within a respectful distance.
After 70 minutes, the Philippines were down 17 to 10 when a perfectly executed set-piece move from a line-out saw replacement hooker Paco Locsin barge over the try line to give the Junior Volcanoes some hope. As the full-time siren had just sounded, Wakeham then converted a near perfect kick from the sideline to throw the match into overtime and make it 17 to 17.
Tournament rules stipulate any match that is drawn after full-time is decided by a structured kicking contest. Both teams select five kickers to participate in a ‘kick contest’ from three areas across the field. The Philippines nominated their specific five kickers and kicked first. Golden boot Wakeham converted the first while Thailand matched his skill. At one conversion a piece, the second kick was taken by Jaime Chuidian and the Volcanoes placed the pressure on as Chuidian’s conversion was successful. Louis Sollano-Antonio took the third attempt where he was also successful placing additional pressure on Thailand, which they could not withstand. Patrick Deguia Badana Hill was selected as the fourth kicker and his conversion secured a dramatic victory over a valiant Thailand outfit.
After winning the first of two semi finals the Junior Volcanoes who are backed by both the MVP Sports Foundation under First Pacific since 2014 and the Philippine Sports Commission progress to the Division 1 grand final where they face Sri Lanka on Saturday December 14 in Chongqing, China for the championship title. This result will register the Philippines highest ranking in the U19s standings since 2009.
After a successful weekend for Philippine Rugby at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, developing the next generation of SEA Games stars has already begun for the Philippine Rugby Football Union. The national U19 Rugby program have been in training camp since last Thursday prepping for their very own Southeast Asian battle as they face Thailand tomorrow in the opening round of the 2019 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championships.
The Philippines will be fielding their next generation of stars as they aim to continue to develop the countries Rugby programs according to Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby. “The weekend's results for the Rugby 7s programs are years in the making. It comes down to ensuring our future talent are identified early and can progress through our national development programs where our U19s program plays a critical role”.
The U19s program will boast several key players featuring the likes of Jason Bonilla Schirmer, Jaime Chuidian and Patrick Abellera in the national team. Schirmer already making his debut for the nations elite 7s program earlier in November at the Olympic Qualifiers. “Our U19s has some exciting talent within the squad, they defeated China last year and this year we get the chance to take on Thailand in the first match. We also get to see how they match up at the international U19 level,” added Letts.
The Junior Volcanoes is a national development program spearheaded with support from the MVP Sports Foundation under First Pacific and the Philippine Sports Commission. The program's overall goal is to give a platform for youth to have access to international exposure and giving them an opportunity to shine. “It’s an important program to have every year, this is where we identify our talent for our future programs, some of these athletes will be the next players to take the podium at the Southeast Asian Games and our Men’s 15s Program in years to come. We have seen some of our top national players scouted from this program, so it’s always beneficial to see how they started,” shared Letts.
The Philippines have been backed by some of the best Rugby coaches overseas, Head Coach Stu Woodhouse who has been with Philippine Rugby for over seven years has recruited some of the brightest minds to the game to help the developing nation. For this program securing Campese Ma’afu who has played over 50 caps for Fiji helped prepare the team over their four day high intensity training camp in Laguna.
“We are blessed to have the likes of Stu, Campese and David Johnston train our next generation, so much experience in one team. They can share their knowledge and teach our players how best to perform at the this international level," Letts further added.
The U19 team will play tomorrow at 3:00 PM at Yongchuan Sports Center, Chongqing, China. The coaches have selected the following players for this years tournament:
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