Junior Volcanoes face off with South Korea in Asia Rugby U19 tourney

By Ivan Saldajeno

PARAÑAQUE--The Philippine U19 rugby team tries to make full usage of its home court advantage as the squad takes on South Korea in the knockout semifinals of the Asia Rugby U19 Division 1 Championship at the International School Manila in Taguig on Wednesday night.

The Philippine team, known as the Junior Volcanoes, battles the Korean side at 5 p.m. as both teams look to nail one of the two spots in the championship game on Saturday at the said venue in the win-or-go-home clash.

The Junior Volcanoes are seeded third, while the Koreans are ranked second.

History may be in favor of the Koreans as the Junior Volcanoes have yet to defeat them, but with a strong lineup comprising of seniors team members Rhys Mackley, Kai Stroem, and Robert McCafferty and developmental team skippers Kingsley Ballesteros and Joshua Aragon, the Junior Volcanoes believe they have what it takes to pull the huge upset.

“The U19s program is a recruitment platform for Philippine Rugby, the players have the chance not only to play international rugby but also impress the coaching staff to warrant their selection in the Men’s National teams in the later years. It's been a breeding ground for development and talent identification,” said Senior Volcanoes captain Jakey Letts, who will serve as assistant to Head Coach David Johnston for the said match.

The other semifinal will pit Singapore and UAE at 6:30 p.m. with the winner joining the Philippines-South Korea victor in the final on Saturday at 4 p.m. The losing sides will clash in a consolation game for third at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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