The U19 Junior Volcanoes, the U19 national rugby team of the Philippines, is all set to take on the host nation Thailand in the opening match of the 2018 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championships. The team is supported by First Pacific, MVP Sports Foundation and the Philippine Sports Commission.
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 at Bang-Bon Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand with China playing Singapore in the first match followed by the Philippines taking on Thailand.
The Junior Volcanoes are comprised of 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds, a rugby development program supported by MVP Sport Foundation for the Philippine Volcanoes. Including Jake Pastoriza, Jason Bonilla Shirmer, John Patrick Abellera, Sean Baccay Riley and debutante Tom Canon Coleman, 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. Gathering talent from the Philippines and overseas has it’s challenges, especially with the timing of this program,” Philippine Rugby general manager Jake Letts stated. “However, we know it’s always worth the investment. 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 from Class of 2006 as well as Daniel Bembo Matthews, Ned Plarizan Stephenson and Ricky Alarcon Kucia from 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 shared. “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. Jeromy earned Team Captain this year.
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 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 against Thailand. The first match will kick off on December 11, 2018 at 7:15 pm Manila time and be streamed live via the Volcanoes Facebook page.