The Philippine Volcanoes National Men’s Sevens Rugby Team, backed by Globe Telecom and the Philippine Sports Commission, have selected their Top 18 for the upcoming 2019 World Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong to be played from April 5 to 7 at the Hong Kong National Stadium. The event is aligned and run in conjunction with one of the biggest events in Asia each year, the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
Only two Asian nations qualified in 2019, this year it will be the Philippines and 2018 Asian Games Gold Medalists Hong Kong. The Volcanoes secured their place in the prestigious event after finishing with a Bronze Medal in Asia for the 2018 Asia Sevens Series.
“It’s a spectacular achievement for a young Union, we have only been part of the World Rugby group since 2008. So to qualify for the event for the second time, it’s a sign we are playing quality Rugby on the international scene” shared Jake Letts, the General Manager for Philippine Rugby.
The Volcanoes equaled their highest ranking last year since 2012, which was also the last time they participated in the same event. It was all confirmed last October after a string of successful performances. 2012 was the last year the Volcanoes finished on the podium in Asia however it wasn’t all easily achievable each year after. The Volcanoes found themselves ranked as low as 9th in Asia in 2016 before making progressive moves forward a year later. After 12 months the Volcanoes moved to 6th place in 2017 and finished third place overall in 2018 for their Asian ranking.
“It’s been a long and tough road, we have had our ups and downs like any sports teams. Looking back we achieved a silver medal in Asia in 2011, third place in 2012 and qualified for the World Cup in 2013. We then finished 5th in the Asian Games in 2014 then soon after finished with a Gold Medal in the Southeast Asia Games in 2015. 2016 was a rebuilding year with a lot of players in turnover. We found ourselves again in 2017 with a Gold Medal in the Asia Rugby Trophy Series and it’s proven now we have the talent to be back to our best” added Letts.
The Volcanoes have kept the services of National Coaches, former New Zealand All Black Frano Botica and Canadian national David Johnston to keep the progression forward. Both coaches have been with the program since 2016. The coaches have kept loyalty to the selection for the Unions big event, opting for 13 players from the original team that helped achieve the qualification in 2018 and adding three players from the 2017 group that helped start the progression from their Gold Medal win in the Asia Trophy Series. They have also selected two shadow players into the squad.
“The coaches have kept 13 players from the 2018 group, plus adding Daniel Bembo Matthews who was the Captain in 2017 but was unavailable last year due to injury. Joining Danny in selection will be Tommy Kalaw Gilbert who was also one of our best in 2017 but also suffered a long-term injury in 2017. In addition to these two, Patrice Ortiz Oliver returns to the program after settling commitments with his professional club in Japan last year. Plus we have an exciting young Jaime Chuidian graduating from our youth program who will add a fresh new face to the group. All in all, 18 players aiming to secure their position in the top 12 for the competition” added Letts.
The Volcanoes will have an 8-day high intensity training camp starting on March 22 for 16 players to begin with, before making a cut to 12 players for the prestigious event. Each player looking to prove themselves at the highest level.
The 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier Squad selected includes:
1. Christopher Arpon Bird
2. Daniel Bembo Matthews
3. Donald Canon Coleman
4. Edlen Cortez Hernandez
5. Evan Santillan Spargo
6. *Jaime Sebastian Antonio Chuidian
7. Jerome Padillo Rudder
8. Joe Palabay Dawson
9. Jonico Ater Hardwick
10. Justin Villazor Coveney
11. Mark Mapacpac Roberts
12. Patrice Ortiz Olivier
13. Robert Luceno Fogerty
14. Ryan Reyes Howe
15. Tim Alonso Berry
16. Timothy Bweheni
17. Tommy Kalaw Gilbert
18. Vincent Amar Young
(Two to be omitted for training camp)
*Denotes potential debutant
Head Coach: Frano Botica
Assistant Coach: David Johnston
Strength & Conditioning and Performance: Chris Everingham
Physiotherapist: Steph Yee
National Teams Coordinator: Prexie Halabi