Volcanoes begin buildup for SEA Games title defense

Justin Coveney will be looking to be at his best for the Volcanoes this season.

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine Volcanoes start their bid for back-to-back SEA Games gold medals by going up against the rest of the Asian continent in the Asian 7's Series this February, and right now, they are also preparing for the said meet.

“Our first step is to finish first place next year in February, which I am confident we can after a silver place finish this year. However in 7's, it’s very unpredictable so we need to make sure we perform at our best over the first two legs in Dubai and India,” vowed skipper Jakey Letts.

Currently the best team in Southeast Asia, the Volcanoes continue to be inspired by the rugby seven's return to the Olympic stage. However, it is also the same case with the other Asian teams, and Letts is wary of it.

“Asia Rugby is on the rise, each team seems to be getting better every year, we know if we are going to go back-to-back gold in the SEA Games then we have to ensure how preparations are well in advance and of the highest quality,” he continued.

The Volcanoes' female counterparts have also begun their own title defense preparations. In fact, they will play one tournament before joining the men's team in UAE and India.

The Lady Volcanoes will participate in the Bangkok 7's on Nov. 12-13 first before joining the February meet.

On the other hand, PRFU director Matt Cullen announced that the Philippines will be a co-host of the 2016 Asia Rugby U19 Championship on Dec. 11, 14, and 17.

The U19 Volcanoes will play host to South Korea, Singapore, and UAE as they continue to build themselves come the future senior squad call-ups.

Malaysia is the other host and will welcome Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and Sri Lanka in Kuala Lumpur.

Also, the U19 Lady Volcanoes will host Hong Kong in a pair of friendlies tagged as the National Development Series on Jan. 26 and 29.

“The U19 youth programs identify players for both teams, only the top players will graduate to the Men’s and Women’s National 7's Programs. These players are crucial for nurturing young talent to compete in future SEA Games,” Cullen explained what the youth team is all about.

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