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. 🙂
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.
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)! :)))
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:
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
Really been a while since I last capture photos like this. 🙂
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 :)))))))
The Philippine Power Forwards! All those eaten cupcakes paid off! (Yes, Lolo Austin, you..) hahahaha!
This picture, I got it by accident. I was holding my DSLR and accidentally pressed it while holding it up and viola! 🙂
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. 🙂
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.