After eight years of waiting, the Philippine Volcanoes are raring and ready to go for the gold medal in the 28tth Southeast Asian Games rugby competitions which opens at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium here on Sunday.
We are confident that the team will win a medal, and hoping for a gold, especially in the men’s division, said Philippine Rugby Football Union Aaron Briddon on Wednesday, a day after the men’s and women’s rugby squads arrived here.
The Filipino rugby exponents bagged a silver medal in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games, the last time the event was included in the regional sportsfest. They placed fifth in last year’s Incheon Asian Games and are currently ranked No. 2 in Southeast Asia, he added.
Briddon noted that he considers Thailand, the defending men’s rugby champion, and host Singapore as their main rivals for the gold medal here.
Among those back in harness is Filipino-British actor and model Andrew Wolf, who was a member of the first PHL men’s rugby squad that took silver in the Thailand Games held in Nakhon Rachashima.
Although they skipped the recent Asian Rugby 7s held back home due to their respective jobs abroad, reinforcing the Volcanoes for the Singapore SEAG Stint are siblings Benjamin, Oliver and Matthew Saunders, Gareth Holgate and Jake Letts.
Also hoping to do well is the women’s rugby sevens squad, which is making its SEA Games debut, coached by Australian Shirley Russell.
These girls have been training for 10 weeks and I have been an involvement for them eight weeks, said Russell, a former national team member and coach of the Australian women’s national team that won the inaugural World Cup Rugby 7s in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The girls have trained very hard and very determined, they have a passion for the game, she said. We expect our team to be competitive. We should win a gold medal.
Both men’s and women’s rugby squads swing into action on Sunday, a day after the opening ceremonies at the Singapore National Stadium.
The Volcanoes have a tough schedule, playing Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia, respectively, on the opening day while their women’s counterparts tackle Laos and Singapore in succession.
The top two squads after the single-round series in both divisions battle for the gold medal. (PNA)SCS/jfm/pr