Singapore battles Philippine selection in rugby friendly

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—The Singapore national rugby team is back in the Philippines.

For the first time in two years, Singapore's rugby squad makes a return to Philippine soil to play against a selection made up of veteran Volcanoes and potential national team prospects called the Philippine Residents XV in a friendly named the Transcom Rugby Championship at the Eagles' Nest Rugby Field inside Southern Plains Village in Calamba on Saturday.

The Residents XV is a new program formed supported by Transcom, Seapac Philippines and the Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU).

"Were excited to take part for the second year in a row in the Transcom Rugby Championship. It gives an opportunity to showcase the highest level of rugby here in the Philippines," shared Jake Letts, National Teams Head.

Singapore, currently ranked 60th in the world, pushed the Volcanoes to the limit before the latter escaped with a 20-17 win in its last visit in the 2015 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue.

Matt Cullen, Managing Director of the PRFU stated how the match was set.

"Singapore contacted Philippine Rugby earlier in the year for an international friendly. We took the offer straight away, no hesitation at all," Cullen bared.

The said friendly, scheduled at 3 p.m., will serve as a tune-up as both countries will play in this year's Asia Rugby Championships next month.

The Philippines will be coached by David Johnston, while Letts, who is currently injured, will be the assistant.

National team players Joe Dawson, Gaz Holgate, Justin Coveney, Benjamin Mudie, and the returning Jovan Masalunga were called up for the Residents.

Bolstering the lineup is a good mix of the best players from Nomads, Eagles, Clark, Cebu, Makati, and SKF.

The Chiefs will first see action earlier Saturday in the appetizers, the SPI 15's Finals.

The Makati Chiefs will take on the Manila Carabaos in the first of three championship games at the said venue at 10 a.m.

In the other two knockout finals, Hapon takes on Mavericks B at 11:30 a.m., while Subic faces Albay at 1 p.m.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno