|The captains of the teams participating in both the Hong Kong Sevens and the World Series Qualifiers take a photo with the championship trophy. World Rugby|
By Dugout Philippines
The Philippine Volcanoes, backed by Globe Telecom, are less than 24 hours away before they kick off what is to be the highest level of competition they have played since their debut at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in 2013.
The Volcanoes finished third in the Asia Sevens Series last year, which have earned them a prestigious position in the World Series Qualifier division.
Only two Asian nations have earned the right to play in this division.
On one side, the top 15 teams in the world will be playing in Round 7 of the HSBC Sevens Series, where Hong Kong will be hosting the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
On the other side, the next best 12 teams in the world will be vying to qualify for the 2020 World Series, with the champion team being promoted to the top 15 teams in the world.
Team Philippines have been grouped with host nation Hong Kong, Tonga and Zimbabwe in the qualifier division.
Team Captain Danny Matthews is optimistic about the team's chances.
“We have played Hong Kong quite regularly in the past at the Asia Sevens Series, each year we get closer, so hopefully we can go one step further. For Zimbabwe, they have beaten us twice after the bell, so again hopefully we have the fitness to get one over them this time. For Tonga we know they are going to be a physical side so hopefully we can match them there and use speed as a difference,” said Matthews.
The Philippines have been in a nine day high intensity training camp, and are now in Hong Kong ready to take the field.
Matthews had the honor to represent the Philippines amongst all captains for this weekends competitions.
“To be captain is obviously a great honor, to actually be here doesn’t happen often, last time we were here was 2012, and we have the support of the whole Philippines behind us, we are very excited to have that,” he continued.
Coaches Frano Botica and David Johnston have selected the top 12 players to compete for the Philippines: Matthews, Mark Roberts, Joe Dawson, Vincent Young, Tim Bweheni, Tim Berry, Jonico Hardwick, Patrice Olivier, Donald Coleman, Ryan Howe, Justin Coveney, and Rob Fogerty.
Over the last two seasons the Volcanoes have progressed from ninth in Asia to third, with a pool of national players.
The coaches have selected the top 12 players from the last two years who have all played consistently strong for the national team to handle the pressure and occasion of what may be their biggest tournament to date.
“It’s a special tournament, being part of the top 27 nations for rugby sevens in the world will require our most elite and experienced athletes. In a division with teams such as Ireland, Russia, Germany and Tonga, the level is going to be extremely high, it will be an exciting challenge for the Philippines,” shared Jake Letts, general manager for Philippine Rugby.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Corporation, was a special guest at the 2019 players presentation at the Globe Tower, speaking on behalf of Ayala and Globe Telecom who signed as the headline sponsor for the Volcanoes from 2017-2020.
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