Ada Milby named new rugby chief

Rick Santos and Ada Milby continue to lead Philippine rugby. PRFU
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Ada Milby will now spearhead the Philippine Rugby Football Union as she was elected as the organization's new president as announced on Friday.

Milby, who has become a trailblazer among female sports leaders after she was named into the Asia Rugby executive committee and the World Rugby Council, got a unanimous vote from everyone present in PRFU's annual general meeting on Tuesday.

Milby will replace Rick Santos as the domestic rugby chief.

"Congratulations to Ada in her new role as PRFU president in addition to her continued roles in Asia Rugby and World Rugby," Santos said.

Milby now has a daunting task to continue the legacy of Santos.

Under his leadership, Philippine rugby became prominent in the sevens and 15's plays, solidifying its status as one of Southeast Asia's top teams.

Also, Santos helped stabilize the national sports association to what it has become now.

"Rick has led the PRFU through a journey of transformation to professionalize the union and build successful national programs. It's this level of professionalism that has ensured the stability of the union during this very challenging year of the COVID-19 pandemic," Milby said.

Former national team captain and rugby's chief executive officer Jake Letts added, "Rick’s been tremendous for the PRFU, and serving an 8-year term as President speaks for itself. He’s always been passionate about Philippine rugby and, in particular, has been a strong advocate for youth rugby, sponsoring junior and grassroots programs and creating opportunities for young and underprivileged youngsters to prosper in our national programs."

As an ode to his contributions, Santos was unanimously selected as secretary general, effectively meaning he and Milby, who was rugby's secretary general prior to her new role, swapped positions.

"I look forward to building on the legacy of rugby development in my new role as secretary general," Santos said.

"I'm thankful that Rick will continue to serve in the capacity of sec-gen as it will truly take a team to get through these difficult times and his wisdom will continue to be an essential asset to Philippine rugby," Milby added.

"I look forward to continue working with Rick in building a successful organization," Letts further quipped.

Meanwhile, Milby's first plan of action as the new rugby president is the return to action of the Volcanoes especially with the Southeast Asian Games coming next year.

"Our first priority will be to restart activities when restrictions are lifted with player welfare and community safety as the primary focus. We have a very robust 'return to play' protocol prepared in line with global best practices and IATF guidelines. I am also hopeful that we can resume national athlete training in 2021 as both our men's and women's teams are competing at the elite level of Asia Rugby in the 7's format. From the success of the gold and silver medal performances in the 2019 SEAG, we want to ensure that we don't lose the forward momentum of those programs," she said.

With the COVID-19 vaccine now available, Santos is optimistic about what is in store for the sport.

"I am very excited about what the future holds for rugby at both the local and international levels," he said.

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