Rugby: Philippine Volcanoes amp up SEA Games preparations in Doha tournament

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2017 08:05 PM

MANILA — The Philippine Volcanoes will fly to Qatar next month to get a much-needed international exposure as they prepare for their gold medal defense in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Jake Robrigado Letts, national teams head of Philippine Rugby Football Union, said the pool will be competing at the Asia Trophy Series in Doha, where they will be up against top teams in the continent.
“Each tournament is a key preparation for our gold medal defense for the SEA Games, winning the Trophy Series puts us in a strong position. It’s an important goal for us to build on,” Letts said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
Letts, accompanied by team members Elden Cortez Fernandez, Tommy Kalaw Gilbert and Robert Amalay Jones at Tuesday's discussion, said the Trophy Series is one of only two international competitions they will be joining before the SEA Games.
“Not only we’d be exposed to Southeast Asian nations like Singapore and Thailand, we’d also be exposed to other Asian nations, such as UAE, Qatar, Nepal, Pakistan and India. So this tournament is great preparation for our members and it’s very important for our campaign,” Letts said.
“For the Southeast Asian Games we have 45 players gunning for 12 positions. Purely because of the fact that this is a contact sport, there may be injuries at any given time, we may lose three players tomorrow, we may lose five players next week. It’s unpredictable in that sense. 

“So what we do is we have our national squad, the 12 elite players that qualify and variably selected will be picked for the Southeast Asian Games.”
Whoever wins the Trophy Series, which will run from March 3 to 4, gets promotion to the Asian 7s Series to be held through September and October in Hong Kong, Korea and Sri Lanka later in the year. 
The Philippines is seeded top of their pool with games scheduled against Qatar and Nepal on the first competition day. The top four nations will play off for the gold medal placing.
The Volcanoes finished second in the Trophy Series last year.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)