The U19 Junior Volcanoes are proudly supported by First Pacific, MVP Sports Foundation and the Philippine Sports Commission. The teenage footballers are all set to take on the host nation Thailand in the opening match of the 2018 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championships.
Competing against Thailand, China and Singapore, the Philippines will face strong competition in the Division 1 series to see who will be crowned 2018 champions. The competition kicks off tonight at the Bang-Bon Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand with China playing Singapore in the first match followed by the Philippines taking on Thailand.
With players aged 17 to 19, the Junior Volcanoes is a rugby development program supported by MVP Sport Foundation for the Philippine Volcanoes. The young Volcanoes have been in an intensive training camp since Friday under Men’s National Coaches Stu Woodhouse and David Johnston.
“It’s always a much shorter and intense training camp for this group,” Philippine Rugby general manager Jake Letts stated. “Gathering talent from the Philippines and overseas has its challenges, especially with the timing of this program.”
“However, we know it’s always worth the investment,” Letts added. “Having our senior quality coaches here helps their preparation and enables them to fast track their learning process ahead of the competition.”
The U19s program for Philippine Rugby was first established in 2006. Since the program’s inclusion, several key players have gone ahead and graduated to the Men’s senior program, an outcome which is exactly what the program aims for.
Earlier this year, four players from Men’s 15s Championship winning Philippine Volcanoes team came from the U19s development program. Experienced players Gareth Dela Rosa Holgate (class of 2006), Daniel Bembo Matthews, Ned Plarizan Stephenson and Ricky Alarcon Kucia (all class of 2008) were all selected for the senior playing group and helped the Volcanoes to a first place finish in 2018.
“This program has always played an important role for the development of our national programs,” Letts said. “It enables our youth to have a platform to perform for the National Coaches and go on to represent the country at a senior level.”
“I have seen a number of remarkable players come through,” the Philippine Rugby general manager added. “It’s an important program we want to continue and invest each year.”
This year, the Junior Volcanoes will be looking at their firepower through brothers Jeromy Cairns and Manaia Zafra Cairns, both earning selection in the forward pack. The former earned Team Captain this year.
Debutante Tom Canon Coleman will be looking to impress further after earning the Vice Captaincy role for the national team. At flyhalf, Matthew Imperial Davie will lead the team around the field with the assistance of Jason Bonilla Schirmer at fullback.
Overall, the Philippines have strong mix of experience with new faces and will be looking for a victory in the opening match tomorrow against Thailand. The first match will kick off tonight at 7:15 pm MNL time, and be streamed live via the Volcanoes Facebook page.