Most Filipinos may not be familiar with rugby but our national team, the Philippine Volcanoes, is grateful that they are now getting support from media and the public.
In an interview with the team’s head coach Matt Cullen earlier today, August 24, he related that it’s about time for the team to be recognized by Filipinos.
"It’s fabulous!" he said when PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and YES! magazine asked him about the media attention they are receiving during the media junket prepared for PHL Volcanoes by one of their sponsors, Globe Telecommunications, at The Legend Villas in Mandaluyong City.
He added, "In 2008, 2009, and 2010, we beat India, we beat China, we beat Thailand, we beat Guam, we beat Iran, and we beat Pakistan.
"We’ve won all these games and no one knew. We won a silver medal in the South East Asian Games and no one knew.
"I think that comes to the fact that Rugby Union is the new sport to the Philippines so they don’t know it yet. But that will come."
CONTROVERSIAL BILLBOARDS. It can be recalled that the PHL Volcanoes drew more attention after its members posed for an underwear ad for the local clothing brand Bench. These were used in the calendar and on the billboards in Guadalupe.
The purpose of this, according to reports, was to gain more support from the public.
However, after a couple of weeks, Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos ordered to take down those billboards. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
These underwear billboards of the PHL Volcanoes were replaced with billboards that still encourage onlookers to support the national rugby team.
Although this became controversial, it seems that the rugby team members are not affected.
In an interview with some of its members yesterday, August 23, Chris Everingham said it was a great opportunity to promote their team.
The 27-year-old player said, "It’s great that we had the opportunity to, you kow, expose and promote Philippine Rugby to the nation of the Philippines.
"You know, if we have that opportunity again, we would do it again.
"With it being taken down, you know, that’s an issue for the local community.
"We’re just happy that the Philippines Rugby is being recognized now as a national sport and we’re doing very well.
"So, in spite of being taking down, I think that publicity is ultimately being quite good for Philippines Rugby. You know, we’re starting to get recognized."
CLIMBING UP THE LADDER. Unknown to many, the PHL Volcanoes won the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in 2005. They also won a silver medal in the same competition in 2007.
Also in the last five years, the team was able to compete in different Asian tournaments and climbed from Division 4 to Division 1.
On August 27 and 28, the national rugby team will compete against UAE and Korea in Shanghai Sevens Rugby Tournament.
PHL Volcanoes member Harry Morris said that the team has "very high chances" of getting a positive outcome from this tournament.
He added with confidence, "I think we’re gonna do well."
After this, the team is set to compete in the Borneo Sevens Tournament later this year.
PHL Volcanoes also need to be included in the top six teams in Asia to be able to compete in the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens Tournament.
"I hope that this year, we crack the top six place," said coach Cullen.
"I think it’s important for this team. We’ve been trying together now for two years and trying to get the game plan and preparation exactly right."
Although the team has only been playing Sevens for a few years, according to coach Cullen, he still wishes that the team would get a spot on their third try.
"I’m hoping and a little bit confident that our third try will be successful and we’ll crack into the top 6," he told YES! and PEP.