After nearly two years of inactivity, the Philippine Volcanoes, the men’s and women’s national rugby sevens squads, have arrived in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and are keen to see action in the prestigious Asia Rugby Sevens Series from Nov. 19 to 20 at the Dubai Sports City.

“It’s been a long time but we are happy and excited to see action in this tournament,” said PH team manager Jake Letts of the first event that the PH squads are competing since the 2019 30th Southeast Asian Games.

The Volcanoes romped off with the SEA Games gold while the Lady Volcanoes bagged a breakthrough silver in the regional sportsfest.

Featuring the top eight countries in Asia in both the men’s and women’s divisions, the two-day competition serves as the Asian qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup Sevens scheduled in September 2022 in South Africa.

The Volcanoes are in Pool A with South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia while the Lady Volcanoes are in Pool A with Japan, Kazakhstan and Thailand, with top two finishers in each of the men’s and women’s division earning tickets to the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

“We would like to thank the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee for their support of this international competition,” noted PRFU President Ada Milby. “We hope to do the Philippines proud in this tournament.”

To enhance the teams’ chances, the PRFU has tapped Australian Josh Sutcliffe, head coach of Stanford University Club, to call the shots for the Volcanoes while Samoan coach Fetala’a “Fitz” Taua’a is back at the helm of the women’s team.

“Josh has had a great depth of experience with USA Rugby while leading the Stanford rugby program for the last five years while Coach Fitz will be resuming where he left with our women’s squad in 2019,” Letts said.

Milby explained that due to limited training conditions in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic , the PRFU was prompted to cast a wide net in global recruitment program for players with Filipino roots so that country will continue to have players for international competition.

“We will 10 new faces with our national teams as a result of our scouting process and we believe they will be assets not only in this tournament but also for future international events,” she said.

She said that the Asia Rugby 7 Series will also serve as part of the preparation of the national teams that the PRFU intends to field in the Hangzhou Asian Games in China in September next year.

The Volcanoes are composed of Christopher Bird Lewis, Edlen Gil Robert Hernandez, Kai Kristian Stroem, Ralph Jose Pierre Barberis, Jobel de Castro, Jordan Samuel Rhoades, Vincent Francis Young, Ian Christopher Luciano, Clifford Joe Dawson, Luc Stefan Smith, Ethan Luke Shien Chen and Jerome Lloyd Ruder.

The Lady Volcanoes are Erica Mae Legaspi, Aldee Faith Denuyo, Helena Indigne, Jennifer Lyn Johnson, Lauryn Madrigal Nazareno, Loramhel Monique Mateo, Naomi Kate Palis, Mary Riclaire Martinez, Tanya Louise Bird, Vanessa Cifuentes, Alyanna del Fierro and Lilian Christina Smythe.

Source: Manila Bulletin (