VOLCANOES, at some point, are bound to erupt.
And Hong Kong rugby team skipper Tom McColl believes it’s only a matter of time before the Philippine rugby team finally gets to wreak havoc in the Asian rugby scene.
Hong Kong, a perennial Asian contender, defeated the Volcanoes, 59-20, in their 2013 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Top Five competition match on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, but not after seeing the Filipinos threaten what could have been a famous victory in the opening half.
McColl felt the Filipinos have come a long way since their last meeting two years ago when Hong Kong, known as the Dragons, ripped the Volcanoes, 74-10, in a practice game in preparation for the 2011 edition of the A5N.
“There are a lot of similar faces, but they’re much improved. They’re a much-better side now than what they were two years ago,” McColl said. “They’ve obviously got good training and coaching.”
And the Dragons captain believes it's only a matter of time before the Volcanoes become a force to be reckoned with in the future.
“Definitely. I’d hate to know how many half-Filipino rugby players there are in the world,” McColl said. “These guys are starting a trend and I think it’s going to be a strong team in the future.”
Playing in the lowest tier of the competition only a few years ago, the Volcanoes have slowly gone up the ranks with the influx of Filipino standouts from abroad.
“(The evolution is) huge. Now people are willing to play. Before we had to find people,” Volcanoes assistant coach Stu Woodhouse said.
“I think there’s been a big effort on behalf of the Philippine Rugby Football Union to help and continue to grow rugby. We’ve seen the success of the Azkals and how football’s grown and we’re looking to do the same thing,” PRFU president Ricky Santos said.
To continue their rise, the Volcanoes have to do well in their last two matches, against South Korea on May 11 in the opponent’s turf, before going back to Manila on May 18 to face UAE in a game that could determine which team gets relegated to Division 1, the second tier.
Japan, the defending champion, rounds out the five teams in the competition.
The winner of this year’s edition clinches a berth in the 2015 World Cup in England, while the runner-up enters a four-team tournament for a wildcard berth.
“I think they (Volcanoes) are gonna stay up in this division. I think they would do well against UAE in two weeks,” McColl said.