(L) Ph Volcano Manny Olondriz will look to dominate at the line out for Eagles RFC. (R) Ph Volcano Robert Jones will be a key link between the forwards and the backs for Nomads.
The first of two 2018 SPI 15s Grand Final weekends kicks off this Saturday at Southern Plains, Laguna. The nation's top Premiership teams, the Eagles RFC and the Manila Nomads, will go head-to-head to see which team will be crowned the 2018 SPI 15s Champions.
The SPI 15s, proudly sponsored by Seapac Philippines Inc, is the countries 15s domestic competition. Played over four months across four divisions for both men’s and women’s.
The Manila Nomads come into the match as reigning champions, after winning the 2017 division 32 to 29 over the Eagles RFC in what was a fiercely contested final last year. For 2018 however, it will be the Eagles as hot favorites as they remain undefeated in 2018. Boasting Philippine Volcanoes Joe Palabay Dawson, Jackson Pato and Gregory Golman, the Eagles will be looking to earn back the title of domestic club champions this year. The team is led by experienced Head Coach David Johnston, he will have to do it however without two of his star players and two Philippine Volcanoes Timothy Bweheni and veteran representative Gareth Holgate, both have been ruled out with injuries.
The Nomads will field Volcanoes of their own, most evidently Robert Amalay Jones and David Feeney who are expected to lead and direct the reigning champions. The Nomads will also call upon Resident XV Captain Chris Anderson and Ph Volcano Benjamin Priagola Mudie to be in top form to put the experienced pack on the front foot.
“The SPI 15s has always been traditionally close, last year we had the Nomads put together their best performance of the season in what was their biggest occasion, the final. They showed true grit and never gave up. I would say, it could be a different story on Saturday, I don’t think the Eagles have forgotten about that one. They will come out fighting no doubt and look to gather momentum early’ shared Jovan Maslalunga, Competitions Manager for Philippine Rugby.
Each members of the Nomads and the Eagles RFC are also playing for higher honours, all players still looking to earn selection in national colours later this month. With two national programs in competition, the Philippine Volcanoes team will play Singapore on June 23 and 26 in the Asia Rugby Championship whilst the feeder program to the Volcanoes the Philippine Residents XV team will host a touring team from the United Kingdom, the Penguins RFC on the same dates.
“It’s going to be a great game, you have the two top teams not only playing for the Premiership title, but also making their last push for selection into the National Team Programs. Coach Stu Woodhouse will be tracking players for the Volcanoes, and David Johnson keeping a close eye on who he wants in the Residents XV program. There’s plenty to play for” Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby shared.
The Premiership division for SPI 15s is the top division of domestic Rugby in the Philippines. It features the best players playing in the highest division. The Championship division final, is the second division under Philippine Rugby. It will be played next week with the HMR Ibons and the Santos Knight Frank Mavericks to battle it out for 1 and 2. The Subic Shark Jets will take on the Manila Carabaos for third while the Makati Chiefs will take on the Albay Bulkans for 5th and 6th place.
The match for the Premiership final between the Manila Nomads and the Eagles RFC is at 2:15 pm at Southern Plains on June 9, entry is free.
“It was a good result on Tuesday, however the girls know the task tonight will be much harder. So I’m expecting a very tough encounter against an experienced home team” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby
On a positive side, the Philippines will field a full contingent of players, selecting their top 23 for tonight’s clash. Captain Aiumi Ono and Tanya Escala Bird have both been cleared for selection after each suffered minor injuries in Tuesday’s clash against the Indian team.
The Lady Volcanoes will look to experienced players to ensure the Singaporeans are handled. Madille Salinas from Cebu expected to once again put her body on the line after some bruising defensive efforts which helped the Philippines maintain the Indian attack in their first match.
Santos Knight Frank Mavericks representatives Rassiel Sales and Sylvia Tudoc will pair up together in the middle with some power forwards from Eagles RFC members Helena Indigne and Katrina Andrews up front. Off the substitution bench the likes of Makati Chiefs representative Eloisa Jordan from Cebu alongside Ada Milby of Eagles RFC to bring on the much needed impact when needed.
Tuesday's debutant Agot Danton from the Davao Durians will once again also play a crucial role with the boot. Danton an experienced player with a football background continues to utilize her skills in an important role for the team. Her kicking skills will be tested tonight in front of a vocal home-ground and will be clinical to the Volcanoes success.
The Philippines are aiming for their first ever Division 1 title, a win will be major boost to the Women’s Rugby program.
The final for the Asia Rugby Championships will be played at 7:00pm tonight, at Queenstown Stadium, Singapore”
Sylvia Tudoc bursts over for the firsts points for the Philippines. Photo Courtesy of Asia Rugby
After months of preparation, the Philippine Lady Volcanoes put forward a strong performance defeating India 19 to 5 to book a spot in the Division 1 Asia Rugby Women’s Championships in Singapore.
In muddy conditions late yesterday afternoon, the Volcanoes were in a tight contest for most of the first half. India and the Philippines were on a battlefield. It wasn’t until late in the first half the Philippines broke through and capitalized from a set piece.
Off a 22m line out, the Philippines utilized star center Sylvia Tudoc to bust through the Indian defense to secure first points for the Philippines, a trade mark piece from the Mavericks Rugby Club center. It comes as no surprise as Tudoc also recently received a Rugby scholarship from leading Rugby training academy Inside Running and will leave for New Zealand immediately following this tournament. Debutant Agot Danton of the Davao Durians, added the extra two points to take the first half off to a 7 points to nil lead.
After a tough opening 40 minutes, the Philippines returned to the field more confident and started testing the defense early. Possession was held by the Philippines attacking the Indian defensive line consistently after the half time break. With back to back penalties, Philippine back-rower Tanya Escala Bird used her formidable strength to drive her way through under the posts to give the Volcanoes an extra boost. Danton once again added the extra points to spearhead the Philippines 14 points up.
Early into the second half, experienced leader Ada Milby was injected into the match. Milby continued to put the Philippines on the front foot, it wasn’t long until she arrived with her first points for the match. A five pointer after pressure on pressure from the Philippine Team made it 19 to 0 with time to spare.
India fiercely continued to contest knowing the time remaining would not be enough to snatch victory from the Lady Volcanoes. Their own pressure converted into a try and closed the score line to 14 points with 10 minutes remaining. The Volcanoes however held strong to hold onto the match with desperate defense to let the time tick away. The match ended in favor of the Philippines, with the Lady Volcanoes booking a place in the Championship final against Singapore on Friday.
Aiumi Ono, hailing from Cebu and current team Captain of the Makati Chiefs and the Lady Volcanoes felt the game was well deserved by her and her team mates
"I was happy with our performance yesterday, such a great feeling winning the first game of the team's comeback after 6 years!" Ono said.
Ono shared that the Lady Volcanoes still need to work on ball retention and securing rucks, but overall they did well on their set-plays and have shut down India in the back line because of their aggressive defense.
“It’s a great start to the tournament, credit to the players and coaching staff, they have worked hard for this victory. It’s not finished yet, Singapore will be another tightly contested match” Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby, also sharing his thoughts
The final will be played at Queenstown Stadium, Singapore 7:00pm on Friday night
The Philippine Lady Volcanoes are all set and ready to face India and Singapore in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship (ARWC) Division 1 on June 5 and 8, respectively.
After a six year hiatus from this competition, the Lady Volcanoes are set to return to the Fifteens format of the game. The National team will be comprised of the best players from local clubs all over the Philippines, with the coaches also selecting two Filipinos from overseas. Upon reflection, the Lady Volcanoes are set to be a force in this years Asian Championships.
Aiumi Ono of Makati Chiefs is making a come-back in the international scene after having an injury and has been named Captain of the team.
“It was a tough road for me to be back on the team after an ACL injury. I'm really excited and privileged to lead this team for ARWC. We have been preparing for this tournament for a long time and had intensive training the past 4 months. Seeing the improvement of the team really excites me even more,” Ono shared.
She added, “75% of the team are new and their first ever International 15s game. We have girls from different regions in the Philippines and girls that came from our Under 17s division. This just proves that the development of women's rugby in the Philippines has been phenomenal and this is a start of a new and better women's representation”
The teams boost of new rookies include Agot Danton of the Davao Durians and the U17s graduates Nicole Kovanen and Kaia Briela Baui of Eagles RFC.
Agot Danton, a homegrown talent, is a product of the PRFU’s Get Into Rugby Program at the SOS Children’s Village in Davao City. Danton also played soccer in the Street Child World Cup in 2014 for the Philippine under 18s team.
Singapore, the host of this year’s ARWC, kicked-off the tournament defeating India with a score of 30 to 5 last Saturday. It was also a historic day for India Rugby as India’s women played with heart in their first-ever women’s international.
“The series will be a positive step forward for the women’s program in Asia, both Singapore and India will be a challenge for us. However, our Women’s team has prepared very well. I’m looking forward to our Lady Volcanoes stringing together two strong performances for the Philippines” said Philippine Rugby General Manager Jake Letts.
Letts also shared his vision moving forward for this program, “it’s so important for Philippine Rugby to continue to develop the 15s format, it’s a stepping stone for our SEA Games inclusion and preparation. It’s all about Philippine Rugby development, the more international exposure, the better our players have to achieve success”
Singapore will be crowd favorites as they have the highest ranking amongst the teams and they have home crowd support but anything can happen on any given day with rugby.
The Lady Volcanoes will be coached Philippine Volcano Joe Palabay Dawson and PRFU Elite Performance Manager Chris Alamil-Everingham.
Both games will be held at the Queenstown Stadium in Singapore. The Philippine Lady Volcanoes will compete against India on June 5, 2018 at 5:00PM and Singapore on June 8, 2018 at 7:00PM.
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