When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was excited that the test was finally here. Although unable to play, I was excited to watch the boys in action and see the culmination of a weeks training. The morning started with team and unit meetings. The boys were looking focused and relaxed.
I headed to the mall for lunch with Lolo Austy, Phil and Nick Pineda. We reflected on the week of training. Meals and bus rides have been a grey opportunity to learn more about my teammates. Everyone has a unique story including Nick who fenced in high school and only recently picked up rugby.
Before we left for Nomads, the team meet one last time. Jared had put together a video presentation of the team’s trip to Smokey Mountain on Thursday. He set it to the song “We could be heroes” and exhorted the team to be heroes today. Many of the players were moved by the presentation and we left in a sombre mood prepared to represent everyone in the Philippines.
The boys looked focused in warmup and carried the intensity into the game. Te defensive pressure increased and feces Hong Kong into early mistakes. Unfortunately, the Volcanoes ran into the best Hong Kong performance in the coaches tenure. It seemed that each time the Volcanoes made a poor decision or mistake they were punished. Although the Volcanoes improved Hong Kong brought another level of intensity, precision and focus to the game. We were taught a rugby lesson and shown the areas of individual and collective games if we want to compete with the top dogs in Asia. However in true Filipino style, the lads worked hard until the last whistle and Oli went over for a try in the last 10 minutes.
Although we ended up on the wrong end of a rugby lesson, the game itself was a success. To think when I joined the Philippine Volcanoes in 2007 the team was dominated by expats and funded by the players. In those days we could not have commanded an interview with Hong Kong. Now we have played our first friendly against Hong Kong and both unions would like to see this become a regular feature on the rugby calendar. Thanks has to be given to the PRFU board for continuing to develop rugby in the Philippines and creating opportunities to showcase the sport.
Post match we headed to The Establishment to catch up with the lads from Hong Kong, grab a feed and a quiet one. Many thanks to Bea Zobel for hosting the event. It was a class evening with Jared’s video being replayed as well as a video that Chris Hettel put together of the Volcanoes training camp. The only thing left was to pack the bags, say good-byes and wait for the A5N Division 1 team to be announced.