Philippine National Women's Team Defeat Thailand in their first ever International Game of 15s Rugby Union
Back Row (L-R) Matt Cullen (Coach), Dyesebel Diaz, Julie Wilson, Tonette Gambito, Manila Santos, Jennalyn Bacud, Celia Gittus (Team Manager), Rose Lanticse, Aiumi Ono, Isabela Silva Front Row (L-R) Cassie Umali, Nikki Lira, Beekay de los Santos, Alana Padilla, Arlene Trinkler, Ann Kristine Layumas, Jennifer Pondoc and Donna Dimayuga
The Philippines National Women’s team travelled to Vientiane Laos to play in the Asian Women’s Tri Series that included Thailand, Laos and the Philippines. In the last two years Women’s 7s Rugby has become a popular sport worldwide and the Asian Rugby Football Union invited Women’s 15s teams to participate in a tournament in Laos from Oct 14 – 18 to help promote and develop the traditional form of the sport here in Asia.
The Philippines had achieved unexpected success at the Asian Women’s 7s tournament, where they surprised everyone on debut by defeating Korea, Malaysia, India and Laos to win the Asian Women’s Bowl Trophy in their first International Tournament.This incredible start to Women’s Rugby has since flowed onto the 15s game here in the Philippines and the two Manila based ladies play teams play in the PRFU 7s league with the 8 men’s clubs. There are also two ladies teams in Cebu and from these four women’s teams a squad of 17 players made themselves available to represent the Philippines at the tri series in Laos and all volunteered to pay for their own fares which included the arduous connecting trip of flights to Bangkok and then a 12 hour train ride to Vientiane to play against Thailand and Laos. The Filipinas who all live here in the Philippines took up the challenge and all 17 players found a way to make the plane, train and automobile trip to play in Laos.
Once all the National Team players had assembled in Laos it was up to National Team Coach Matt Cullen and Team Manger Celia Gittus to focus the girls on playing Rugby Union after the long overnight train ride from Bangkok. The training camp started with ARFU and IRB qualified coaches instructing the players in the finer skills of playing 15s Rugby Union. The Philippine team looked small compared to the larger women from Thailand and all agreed that Thailand would be favorites entering into the three way competition, with the Laos team being the smallest of the three competing Nations.
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