The Philippine Rugby 7s teams captilized on home field advantage with the Men’s bagging the gold medal and the Women’s outclassing arch rivals Singapore and Malaysia to claim silver, a first in their history.
The Men’s team continued their dominance in southeast Asia winning all six games back-to-back, proving too strong for their opponents. The men’s starting the competition strongly defeating Laos 43 to 0, then overcoming Indonesia 57 to 0. Philippines were tested in the last game on day 1 defeating Thailand 24 to 14. It was the Women’s team however who ran in the first upset of the competition defeating Malaysia 31 to 5 following up with another win over Indonesia 24 to 5. The Women’s however loss their first match of the weekend to top seeds Thailand 38 to 7.
After positive results for day 1, day 2 started just as well with the Women’s team defeating Singapore 14 to 7 in another defining win for the program. The Men’s followed suit holding onto a close victory defeating Singapore 14 to 12, which guaranteed both teams progression to the gold medal match. The women’s team went on to defeat Laos 27 to 0 and the Men’s outclassed Malaysia 24 to 0.
Both teams had progressed to the Gold Medal match with the Women’s taking on Thailand and the Men’s taking on Malaysia. In the first of the finals the women’s team saved their best game to their last knowing Thailand were favourites to win the match. For the entire 14 minutes the Philippines continued to throw everything at the Thais and one point nearly took the lead. Thailand in the end where too strong securing the gold medal with a 17 to 7 victory over a drastically improved Philippine team. Settling for a silver for the first time in their short history. For the Men’s, the Philippines put on a strong performance in the final, shutting out Malaysia early and providing some entertainment for the home crowd. A 19 to 0 victory gave the Philippines a gold medal the best result ever at the Southeast Asian Games as a program. A silver for the women’s and a gold for the men’s.
“An amazing weekend for Philippine Rugby, the results were fantastic. So proud of both teams, especially the women’s, they came in ranked fourth and to finish with a silver medal was well deserved. It’s great to see the Men’s continue to play exciting Rugby and to once again secure that gold medal. We would like to thank each and every organisation for making these games happen, PHISGOC, PSC, POC, our sponsors and all our supporters, a very special time for our Union” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
The Philippine Volcanoes, the National Women’s Rugby Team, are all set for their final preparation tournament for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. It couldn’t be better timing as it just so happens to be the Tokyo 2020 Regional Qualifying Tournament for the Olympic Games next year.
“This tournament comes around every four years, and it’s perfect as it leads towards our preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in December” shares Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
The Volcanoes are doubling down on the tournament this weekend as two other neighbouring southeast asians are also maximising the opportunity including Singapore and Thailand. It gives the Philippines a grading ground moving forward with the top teams in Asia. After a successful Trophy Series Gold Medal in August, the result has slingshotted the Philippines to the Top 8 in Asia, where they haven’t played since 2014.
“After a second place finish in the Trophy Series in 2018, the progression to a Gold Medal in 2019 was the next move in the right direction. Now we have the opportunity to show the top teams in Asia how far we have come in five years” added Letts.
Coach Fetala’a Taua has been instrumental in the teams preparation and is optimistic about the tournaments goals. “Our main aim for the event is to gain more international exposure for our development and to compete with the best teams in Asia”. Coach Taua along with his coaching staff have selected a strong contingent of players to perform for the Philippines, most evidently Aiumi Ono one of the countries most experienced players.
“After the huge success of Rugby World Cup in Asia there will be faster progress in the development of the sport. Our team will gain more popularity and interest which will lead to building much stronger asian teams in the future and in the Philippines” added Ono who will lead the side this weekend.
The Volcanoes have been seeded in Pool B alongside Kazakstan, Thailand and Singapore. Pool A consists of China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Korea. The team that wins the tournament joins Japan in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where the Runner Up will progress to the next round of Olympic Qualifications early next year. Matches are played this Saturday & Sunday in Guangzhou, China.
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Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) have removed the term “Lady” from their national women’s 15s and 7s team names. In line with the decision of World Rugby and Asia Rugby to drop gender titles in the Rugby World Cup properties and Asia Rugby competition names, this move demonstrates PRFU's commitment to delivering brand consistency across the organizations most recognised asset, the Philippine Volcanoes National Rugby Team.
Jake Letts, General Manager for Philippine Rugby says of the decision, “Our national team athletes are all developed on the foundational values of commitment, sacrifice, teamwork and passion. These values are reflected across both genders and we want the same name of our national team, the inspirational target for any athlete playing Rugby”.
Ada Milby, PRFU Secretary General and former national women’s team captain also shared “This small change in the name, makes a big difference in the narrative. A Volcano is a Volcano. We want fans to focus on the athletes and their efforts to represent the country, not their gender and this is a great first step toward that intention”.
This decision is part of a larger commitment to gender inclusion targets as set out in PRFU’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan to help raise the profile of the women’s game and remove any perceived favouritism around the men’s team and men’s only tournaments, which historically haven’t included gender in their names. The women’s program has seen a steady rise of success over the last two years, achieving a silver medal finish in the Asia Trophy Series in 2018 and bagging the gold at the same event one year later. Other targets for the women’s game in PRFU include equitable opportunities for women and girls’ development by reducing barriers to join the game and gender targets for more female representation at all levels of the game.
Both the men's and women's national sevens teams will be representing the Philippines in the upcoming Olympic Qualifications and 2019 Southeast Asian Games this November and December.
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