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    Volcanoes out to prove they belong in matches against Asia's big boys

    Apr 18, 2013
    Team captain Michael Letts says staying in the elite division will give the Philippine Volcanoes a shot at qualification to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

    THE Philippine national rugby team faces its biggest challenge yet when it takes on top-ranked Japan in its debut in the Elite Division of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations that kicks off in Fukuoka, Japan on Saturday.

    Hailed as the team to watch in Asian Rugby, the Volcanoes have zoomed from fourth to the top division in just five seasons since first joining the circuit in 2008.

    Promoted to Division 1 just last year, the Volcanoes are currently ranked fifth after Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

    The Volcanoes have lost only once in the last five years, with the Japanese as the only other team with a better record than them after going unbeaten since the tournament's inception.

    The HSBC Asian 5 Nations is a gruelling, six-week long competition featuring the top five teams in Asia, and serves as the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup 2015.

    After Japan, the Volcanoes hope to make home advantage count when they face Hong Kong at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on May 4, followed by an away match against South Korea on May 11 before capping their schedule with a home match opposite UAE on May 18 also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

    “We need to win at least one match during the A5N series to remain in the Elite Division for 2014,” said team captain Michael Letts.

    “The winner of the Elite Division in 2014 receives outright qualification to the Rugby World Cup 2015, while the Elite Division’s second placer will face the second placers from Africa, Europe and the Americas in a knockout competition for the 20th & final Rugby World Cup slot,” he added.

    Continue reading below ↓

    The Volcanoes are a 30-man squad that has since been trimmed to 22 prior to their departure for Japan on Thursday. Most of them are Filipino players based in Australia, New Zealand, United States, and United Kingdom

    The team has been training under national men’s 15s coach Jarred Hodges.

    The complete members of the team are:

    1          Dacanay, Austin Garnica

    2          Duhig, Michael Estrada

    3          Bellenie, Matthew Orag

    4          Howorth, Steve Pagtalunan

    5          Urquijo, Jaime Zobel 

    6          Carroll, Terrence Javier

    7          Hitch, Chris Baltazar

    8          Ward, Jake

    9          Price, James Carandang

    10        Holgate, Gareth dela Rosa

    11        Matthews, Joe Bembo

    12        Coveney, Justin Villazor

    13        Saunders, Matthew Abalos

    14        Olivier, Patrice Ortiz

    15        Letts, Michael Robrigado

    16        Robinson-Polkey, David

    17        Hagan, Graeme

    18        Bautista, JC

    19        Feeney, David

    20        Seeto, Darran Centillas

    21        Letts, Jake Robrigado

    22        Aronson, Alexander

    23        Gregson, Jeff Blanco

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    Team captain Michael Letts says staying in the elite division will give the Philippine Volcanoes a shot at qualification to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
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