THE Philippine Volcanoes are undergoing a tough thrice-a-day training schedule as they prepare for the country’s debut in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia later this month.
The Volcanoes have spent most of the past month in a training camp in Laguna under former USA Rugby coach Al Caravelli, who has been holding video sessions and enforcing a strict diet.
A mix of veterans and a few new faces, the original squad of 23 has been cut down to 14, with the final team of 12 players to be selected on Wednesday.
The Volcanoes will travel to Moscow on June 23, with the tournament set June 28 to 30.
“The players are growing individually and as a team by leaps and bounds,” said Caravelli. “While we are still very new to international rugby, we are learning every day and continuously improving.”
The World Cup Sevens is the premier Rugby Sevens tournament featuring the top 24 teams in the world.
The Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong are the only Asian countries in the competition.
The Volcanoes clinched a spot in the RWC7s by defeating South Korea in the qualifying tournament in November and have been bracketed in Pool C with Zimbabwe, Kenya and Samoa.
“We want to improve from our last international showing from qualifying in November for the RWC7s and the Hong Kong Sevens in 2012. We have never played Kenya, they are a quality team, very fit and strong and well coached. Samoa finished fourth in the series last year," Caravelli said.
“Meanwhile, Zimbabwe beat us on the last play of the game in Hong Kong. So our eyes wide open, focused on our performance and improving in all aspects of our game. We want the Philippine nation and all Pinoys to be proud of our effort regardless of the final score line.”
Sevens is the version of rugby played in the South East Asian Games and Asian Games. It will make its Olympic debut in 2016.