Asian 5 Nations 2014: Philippine Volcanoes vs Japan Brave Blossoms and when the scoreboard doesn’t even matter at all

Hot and humid. It was 34 degrees and the sun was just relentless. Heat & exhaustion can easily nauseate you if you’re not used to this kind of weather in the Philippines. And despite all of this, there in the middle of the Southern Plains Football Field, you’ll find the Philippine Volcanoes, our national Rugby Union squad, lined up & ready to face Asia’s top team, the Brave Blossoms of Japan.

A few minutes into the game, we looked into the score board, 7-3 in favor for the visitors. Yes Japan was leading but the meager Filipino crowd still cheered on after team captain Oliver Saunders slotted home a gorgeous penalty around 40 meters out. It was like manna from heaven. Yes we scored!!!

6th minute into the game, Oli’s brother, Matty Saunders saw an opportunity, picked off an awkward pass from the Japanese and just made a run for it and scored again, 8-7, Philippines now up by a point versus Japan. Conversion from Matt’s try was successful and we got 10-7. For a while there, we were on top of mighty Japan and I just couldn’t explain the feeling. I was just so happy shouting and & cheering on for the team. Well done, just well done.

I think right before the game, nobody expected the team to score against Asia’s best after the jittery opener versus Hong Kong where the Hong Kong lads blanked us out, 108-Nil. We didn’t expect the score but I for one, didn’t doubt the team. I always know they have it in them. I know they can, they just have to find out how to. 🙂

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We lost to Japan, 99-10 but who cares? Who cares we lost to them & who cares the lead didn’t last? All those Volcanoes supporters, Expats & Filipinos alike, doesn’t seem to care. They don’t seem to be bothered by the scoreline. I think what really matters is that we got into the scoreboard and for a while there, the team shone & gave us a glimpse of what could have been if both 15s and 7s were given equal opportunity in funding, preparation, camp, training, and everything else by the Union. And that reminded us why we need not to waver and get tired of supporting this team. When all else fails, the team can only count on us, the 16th man, to get behind them and cheer them on.

I’m on the verge of ranting again, really. But no… Don’t you go barging the dark side again. I’m pretty sure I share that same level of frustration with some friends in the Rugby community. I take comfort in that and in the hopes that somehow, in the near future, everything will change for the better and for the benefit of the team. So, let’s just leave the ranting to another post and just relive the fun moments last saturday! 😀

This trip and game watching almost didn’t materialized after we found out that all games will be held in Southern Plains in Laguna and not in University of Makati as originally planned by the Union. But thanks to my good friend Nikki, former Liaison Officer for Chinese Taipei (Under 20s) and Sri Lanka, who came all the way from Singapore, we were able to rent a van to take us to Laguna. She is the coolest really! And we really miss her, more than a year away from the Philippines, she spent 2013 in Singapore.

Nikki in the middle wearing light blue blouse & skirt with the girls!
Nikki in the middle wearing light blue blouse & skirt with the girls!

 

Then a few weeks before the game versus Japan, Junnel, former PRFU Administrative Officer and a good friend of mine informed me that a certain “Volcanoe” is in distress upon knowing that the games will not be held in University of Makati but in the far-flung Southern Plains. “They need a ride..” Junnel said. So I said yes (just cause, I couldn’t say no to any Volcanoe who needs my help)! :)))

lucky Josh he got himself some fan-girls!
lucky Josh he got himself some fan-girls!

Meet Joshua Tolentino, Rugby player who is currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He tried out for the team year 2012 and stayed for the camp but unlucky he wasn’t able to make the cut. Though he never got capped for the Philippines, he remained close to the team and has been keeping tabs on the team’s progress. So needless to say, I’m glad I was able to reunite Josh with his Volcanoes family. I can see & feel he misses the team and really wants to get back to play again. Perhaps in the near future, he’s only 26, still young and can still try out. Hell we have Lolo Austin Dacanay in the team who’s 37 so really, nobody’s too old for any sport!

But right now, Josh is enjoying the moment with his wife. They’re newly weds! Just a week old in marriage and they found themselves in the Philippines watching games and about to go on vacationing La Boracay style! :))) Congratulations to this lovely couple! Cheers to more years of wedded bliss! 🙂

Of course I wouldn’t pass up the chance of taking pictures of the game. It became rare these days when I get to enjoy and indulge my love for photography so whenever there are games, I go for it. (Apologies for the lack of practice in taking shots) Here are some of the photos I got last Saturday:

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Taken right after the game. Ze lads gamely posed for the picture taking. :)))) It became pretty hard to take pictures when all the fans (mostly girls) came running to the field right after the game! XD

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Really been a while since I last capture photos like this. 🙂

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Lolo Austin… uhhhmmm… I just couldn’t figure it out what he was doing? Be like “hey guys, give us the ball and you be spared!” -LOL :)))))))

 

Scrum. Contesting the ball.
Scrum. Contesting the ball.

The Philippine Power Forwards! All those  eaten cupcakes paid off! (Yes, Lolo Austin, you..) hahahaha!

Stay up high, Japan.
Stay up high, Japan.

This picture, I got it by accident. I was holding my DSLR and accidentally pressed it while holding it up and viola! 🙂

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And here’s the team Physio for as long as I can remember, Rico!!! 🙂 He’s the go-to guy for all injury-related stuff. You can see him busy running around and tending on the team’s various injuries. There’s just no “petiks” time for this guy! And to me, he’s one of those unsung heroes behind the team who never gets mentioned and never gets any citation for doing a job well done every single tournament the team is in. He’s the hardest working Physio I know and for that Sir, I am forever grateful for all the things you’ve done for the team! Maraming maraming salamat po for taking care of them! 🙂

Also happy that I was able to take my cousin with me last Saturday (2nd girl from the left). She had a blast and enjoyed the day! It was Jae’s first time to watch Rugby 15s live and I am totally happy to have shared that experience with her. 🙂

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and lastly… t’was odd… I find this awesome! :)) awesome that a guy as big as him (#1) made it into the National Team! Buff and chiseled bodies be damned but he can bulldoze opponents in a heart beat! :))) i am so proud! guess you need not to be “model size” to get to play Rugby! and we both play the same position! Prop! :))))) –> can somebody get me the name of this player?! :))

It was a fun day indeed. And really happy to be reunited with the team! Despite what happened before the Japan game (between me and the PRFU Admin and it’ll be reserved to another post), I will never get tired of supporting the Philippine Volcanoes who’ve become a second family to me through the years of doing volunteer work for the Union. They are family, period. And I can always look beyond the score board. Guess you can say, my love for the team and the sport is greater than those numbers & those stats. And like the famous saying in Hawaii –> Family is Ohana.. and Ohana means nobody gets left behind! Walang iwanan, I promise! 🙂

**Please guys if you have time, we still have one home game on May 24th in Southern Plains, Laguna versus South Korea. Please be there and get behind the Philippine Volcanoes! Game kicks off 3:30pm.**

So until the next great Rugby Adventure! 🙂

Respect. Discipline. Proudly Pinoy.

 

 

 

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RUGBY: Time for Asian 5 Nations 2014! :)

It’s that time of the year again! yes folks it is! And the Philippines got all the reason to be giddy and excited… Rugby Asian 5 Nations 2014 is just around the corner! woot-woot! 🙂 Since 2012, the Philippines have been playing in the top tier of the prestigious Rugby union tournament along with Japan (the only qualifying Asian team in the Rugby world cup), Hong Kong, Korea, and the recently promoted Sri Lanka.

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2013 Asian 5 Nations Finals game vs UAE
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2012 Division I Championships. Right after we beat Sri Lanka
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Volcanoes in training at Nomads Club. 2012.

For this year, we are facing tough match ups once again. But I’ll be honest, that 2 games vs Korea & Sri Lanka can be “winnable” like what Coach Jared Hodges said but then again, operative word here is “can” and this win situation can easily turn into a loss. Last year, we were not able to snag a win against tough Korea and as for the newly promoted Sri Lanka, I’m expecting some vengeance and  a “payback whip” from them since it was their loss vs Philippines last 2012 that ended their run for Top flight Division and us getting promoted & playing with the big guns. I’ve seen the Sri Lanka team and this is a “new breed” team, players I have yet to see play since their last tour here in the Philippines and a new coach I hear coz the last one, Coach Phil Greening, was sacked after they failed to get the spot in Top 5.

But I’ve got my faith in our team (always do). We are hard workers, we persevere despite challenges, and we play all heart out for the country. 🙂

Again, to all our fellow Filipinos, we invite you to watch the games live this Apr-May 2014. We have 2 home games (same as last year’s only with different opponents this time for home games). May 3rd vs top guns Japan & May 24th vs South Korea. ALL GAMES WILL HAPPEN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAKATI FOOTBALL FIELD. Ticket & game times will be announced later, perhaps by early April.

For the meantime, here’s the schedule of Philippine Volcanoes game in Asian 5 Nations 2014:

April 26, 2014 – Philippines vs. Hong Kong (away game at Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong)

May 3, 2014 – Philippines vs. Japan (home game at University of Makati Football Field, Makati, Philippines)

May 17, 2014 – Philippines vs. Sri Lanka (away game at Colombo Racecourse, Colombo)

May 24, 2014 – Philippines vs. South Korea (home game at University of Makati Football Field, Makati, Philippines)

This will be a tough climb and the team needs all the support they can get especially during the home games. Let’s make use of the home field advantage! head to UMAK field, support, cheer, and get behind the Philippine Volcanoes! 🙂 Hope to see you all there! 🙂

P.S.: It never fails, A5N always makes me feel like I’m finally seeing my family again. hehehehe… seeing all my brothers & sisters from another mother & father comin’ in for the event! really can’t wait… stoked! 🙂

Respect. Discipline. Proudly Pinoy!

For my other RUGBY related posts, click on the links below:

https://kalelbrave.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/hsbc-asian-5-nations-filipino-fans-easily-the-best-in-the-world/

https://kalelbrave.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/hsbc-asian-5-nations-2013-memoirs-of-the-weekend-and-of-the-game/

https://kalelbrave.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/random-thoughts-of-being-a-proud-pinoy-and-of-the-philippine-volcanoes/