Globe Telecom, a leading telecommunications provider, congratulates the Philippine men’s national rugby team, also known as the Philippine Volcanoes who recently thrashed Malaysia, a nation whose rugby tradition dates back to the 19th century, at the Asian 5 Nations Division 1 tournament in Ansan, Korea.
The final score was 86-20. The Philippine Volcanoes scored 15 tries; their opponent made one. Most of Malaysia’s points came from penalties called on the Philippine team. “We started pretty strong,” said Jake Letts, who shared scrum-half duties with James Price.
“We knew that Malaysia wasn’t going to be as strong as Korea, but we had a job to do,” added Philippine Volcanoes fullback and captain (and Jake’s older brother) Michael Letts. “We didn’t start as well as we wanted to, but we picked ourselves up and finished strongly.”
The Letts brothers were the first half-Filipinos to join the national team in 2005. This A5N team included three pairs of Fil-Aussie brothers: the Lettses, fly-half Oliver and winger Matt Saunders, and forwards Rafael and Rupert Zappia. All of them have played for the national team since the inception of A5N.
“On Wednesday it was tough to lose,” Jake recalled. The Philippines had lost to eventual champion Korea in a hotly-contested match, 20-34. “We knew the game was ours if a couple of things had gone our way. If we’d gone into extra time the momentum would’ve been with us.
In the final, Korea defeated Singapore 58-19 to return to the Top 5 from which it had fallen last year.
The team is composed of some homegrown players and mostly half-Pinoys who live abroad. “Globe Telecom is thrilled that the athletes did so well in Korea. It is great to see the hard work pay off and the team winning at the Asian 5 nations Division 1 tournament. This is an achievement for the Philippine Rugby team and we congratulate the whole team on their victory,” declares Globe Telecom President and CEO Ernest Cu.
National team Coach Expo Mejia was not surprised at the Philippines’ lopsided victory over Malaysia. A former member of the New South Wales Waratahs coaching staff, Mejia is currently the head coach of the Village Lions in New York. He also manages Australasian Rugby, a public company which runs rugby development projects in Asia. Mejia has been the Philippine national coach since 2010.
“At next year’s A5N we’ll play Singapore in the first game, and I’m pretty sure we’ll beat them,” he predicted. “If we play the way we played here, we should be the favorites. Then we play the winner of the match between Sri Lanka (relegated from the Top 5) and Chinese Taipei (promoted from Division 2). I expect Sri Lanka to go through. Us versus Sri Lanka: it’ll be a tough game.”
Sri Lanka has the longest tradition of organized club rugby in Asia while Philippine rugby is only starting to get recognition in its own country.