Philippine Rugby Team Defeats Powerhouses, Wins Championship
In a feat that hasn’t been seen since 2012, the Philippine Volcanoes clinched the Championship in the 2019 Asia Rugby Division 1 on Saturday, June 1.
The Volcanoes faced two of its toughest opponents to clinch the title, defeating number 1 seed Sri Lanka 39 to 22, and then making off with a victory over powerhouse and regional rival Singapore 29 to 21 in suspenseful match over the weekend.
Team captain Danny Bembo Matthews led the Volcanoes early on with a perfectly weighted cross field kick to Justin Villazor Coveney for the opening 5 points. Seconds later, Ellis Padillo Rudder found open space to dive over for another 5-pointer, putting the Philippines in a comfortable lead over its archrival.
Singapore answered the Philippines with a quick tap, scoring a full length of the field to stop the bleeding, improving its score gap from 12 to 7.
But the Volcanoes sent Patrice Ortiz Olivier to work, breaking Singapore’s defenses and adding another 5 points to the Philippine tally.
Penalties Kept Singapore Afloat
Although the Philippines kept the lead throughout the match, Singapore managed to trail not very far behind. A string of penalties kept the Singapore ship afloat, as the team successfully converted three penalty goals.
Ned Plarizan Stephenson remedied the situation by providing an extra buffer to the Philippines and extending the lead to 8. A short offload assist from Robert Luceno Fogerty allowed Eric Cruz Erickson to score 5 extra points.
Philippines Back on Top
Although the Philippine Volcanoes Men’s Team did not qualify for the prestigious HK Sevens in April 2019, the 2019 Asia Rugby Division 1 win confirms that the Philippine Volcanoes remain one of Asia’s top teams.
“It’s been really positive over the last two years especially, we have been building this program each year. To get this success is a great achievement. Credit to all the players and coaching and management staff, a tremendous job they deserve this result,” said Philippine Volcanoes general manager Jake Letts. “A big thanks to our headline partners in First Pacific, MVP Sports, and the Philippine Sports Commission."