MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Volcanoes will take on Singapore at the Southern Plains in Calamba for a two-match head-to-head series on Saturday, June 23, and Tuesday, June 26.
The series will decide the 2018 Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship.
The Volcanoes finished in third place in last year's Division 1 Asia Rugby Championships, and will be vying for a first-place finish under the leadership of coaches Stu Woodhouse, Greg Mumm and former veteran Philippine Volcano Austin Dacanay.
The team will field a mix of young players and veterans for this year's intentional squad, with a total of 12 potential debutants included in the final 26-man roster.
Experienced campaigners Ashley Matias Heward, Steve Pagtalunan Howorth and Justin Villazor Coveney return for national duties.
"A new look roster this year, some exciting new faces have been included in the program. The likes of Robert Fogerty, Sam Callaghan and Kevin Broussard will have the opportunity for selection in the nation’s Top 15s program," said veteran Jake Letts.
"These players all have their Filipino roots connecting them to the motherland, I am sure their families here in the Philippines cannot wait to see them represent the nation proudly," he added.
The Volcanoes last played Singapore on home soil in 2015 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. The home team secured the victory in overtime, thanks to a successful penalty conversion from past fly-half Alex Aronson.
In 2016, Singapore got its revenge by edging the Volcanoes in Malaysia after a late try clinched their triumph. However, the Philippines still finished on top of Singapore, after a point differential separated the two in the championship standings.
In 2017, the Singapore national team toured the Philippines to take on the Philippine Residents XV team. The Residents overcame Singapore, 29-17, in wet conditions. Up to nine players from the Residents XV team will be returning to make up of the Volcanoes team this year.
The Volcanoes will be using home ground advantage as a key addition to their preparation, as playing on home soil adding an additional drive to the players.
"Playing at home is very special to our playing group, it’s not often we get to play for the country we love, especially in front of family and friends here in the Philippines," said Howorth, who was selected as the team's captain for this campaign.
"I am really looking forward to having a vocal home crowd on cheering our players against two tough matches against Singapore."
The two match series will be combined with two curtain raiser matches to be played prior to the Volcanoes and Singapore test matches. The UK Penguins Rugby touring team will take on the Philippine Residents XV team, who are coming off a strong win over Guam in April. The Residents XV program boasts the next batch of top rugby players in the country.
The match day program kicks off at 12:30 p.m. when the Penguins take on the Philippine Residents followed by the main game at 3 p.m. Entry is free.
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