Philippines aims to remain as regional rugby kingpins

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Laguna – Defending SEA Games Philippines is hoping to have another great outing in Singapore at the inaugural South East Asia 7s (SEA 7s) this weekend, despite retaining just three members from last year’s gold-medal winning side.

Philippines aims to remain as regional rugby kingpins in inaugural South East Asia 7s.

· Volcanoes 7s has retained three players from last August’s SEA Games gold medal winning side.

· Seven teams from Southeast Asia confirmed for the men’s event, while six nations will compete in the women’s event.

Jointly sanctioned by World Rugby and Asian Rugby, the South East Asia 7s is one of the key ancillary activities of the 8th leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series taking place in Singapore on 16 and 17th April. The South East Asia 7s kicks off at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on 15th April and the final will be played the next day at the iconic Singapore National Stadium on Day One of the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.

At last August’s SEA Games held in Singapore, Philippines beat Malaysia 24-7 for the men’s gold medal and a month later at the China 7s in Qingdao, Philippines again beat Malaysia 19-17. However since then, bitter rivals Malaysia has beaten Philippines twice, a 21-19 win in Colombo at the Sri Lanka 7s and a 15-10 win in Hong Kong during last November’s Olympics qualifiers.

“Our goal in Singapore is of course to win the tournament,” said Jake Letts, Head of the Philippines’ National Teams. “The Philippines will always be confident in the squad sent to compete. With the changes made to the Philippines Volcanoes, Malaysia could be seen as favorites. With rugby development in Singapore and its professionally financed union, Singapore will be hard to beat at home. Our chances however, are as good as any, especially with the unpredictability of 7s rugby.”

Since April 9, the Philippines sevens teams have been in high performance training camp in Southern Plains Field in Calamba, Lagune. This camp acts as a full time program leading up to the tournament in Singapore and features two sessions a day together with team meetings, recovery sessions and game plan management before both national teams depart on Thursday April 14.

Added Letts: “The men’s team will be significantly different for this tournament with the aim of developing new national players into the program. This tournament acts as a stepping stone for the Philippines Rugby Football Union to breed new players and test their abilities on the Asian level. The team will be fairly young with some debutants having the opportunity to make their mark. For the Women’s, most players from the 2015 SEA Games bronze medal winning team remain.”

According to last year’s SEA Games winning captain Letts, the Men’s team will breed a few exciting young players with the likes of Andrew Pagalilauan Ramsden, Robert Benitez McCafferty and Tommy Kalaw Gilbert. These players are all young Filipino heritage players with exciting potential and will be looking to show their speed and skill at the SEA 7s.

The 8-team men’s competition will feature host Singapore (2 teams), Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Malaysia, and such a competition is viewed as a boost to regional rugby development.

“Rugby 7s is obviously going to get more support after the inclusion in the Olympics and also with Japan hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” explained Jetts. “I believe the SEA 7s is a great concept and will grow and develop the sport of rugby in the region. With the HSBC World Sevens Series being held in Singapore each year, the SEA 7s gives the Southeast Asian nations another tournament to participate every year and to compete on a level playing field. This allows valuable on-field experience to get stronger to compete with the likes of Hong Kong and Japan at the Asian level.”

The women’s competition meantime, will feature six nations, host nation Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Malaysia and current South East Asian Games champion Thailand.

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens in Singapore is the only Southeast Asian stop on the 10-leg global series. Rugby fans in Southeast Asia will relish the opportunity to watch World Cup heroes like New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams, Samoan magic man Phoenix Hunapo-Tofoa and Kenya’s record hunter Collins Injera (current second on all-time Series try scorer list with 221) and many other stars in action.

Besides two-days of world-class rugby action, spectators can enjoy exclusive set from British superstar DJ Pete Tong at the conclusion of play on 16th April under the state of the art domed stadium in Singapore with its special air-cooled system. All rugby fans can also look forward to a family-friendly carnival with exciting games and activities all weekend at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Overseas fans can expect a seamless 7s experience which takes them from the Singapore National Stadium to iconic riverside attraction Clarke Quay.

Following the DJ set from Pete Tong, ticket holders can hop onto a shuttle bus service to Official After Party venue Clarke Quay where a music festival awaits them. All ticket holders will enjoy great discounts and privileges at restaurants and nightspots at Clarke Quay and other locations islandwide such as Sentosa, Boat Quay and the Marina Bay district.

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