THE 2016 Transcom Cup between the Philippines and the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union kicks off this weekend in Calamba, Laguna.
The two-match international series aims to develop local homegrown talent in what is traditionally known as an expatriate-dominated sport, which originated in England in the 1800s.
Through this series and other development programs, the Philippine Rugby Football Union aims to groom players with the potential to qualify for the national rugby team, the Philippine Volcanoes.
Although composed of all Filipino-heritage players, majority of the current Philippine Volcanoes learned the sport abroad and brought their high-level of skill back to the Philippines.
For the national development series, the Philippines will field an entire under-19s development team that have learnt and developed their skill in the Philippines.
The national players are mostly from underprivileged backgrounds and were recruited through the Philippine Rugby Foundation Programs. The Philippine team will have representatives from Subic, Cebu, Davao and Albay coming from foundations and orphanages including Tuloy Don Bosco, Haven for Children and Bahay Bata Foundation.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong, whose national team is expatriate-dominated, will field only Chinese nationals with no expatriate background to help develop their program to ensure their players have the best opportunity to play on an international stage.
Head Coach Carlito Abono and his assistant Jovic Paypon will lead the Philippines. Both experienced with the national team programs as players and current coaches of the Alabang Eagles Junior Rugby Academy.
“Maganda naman ang paghanda ng team kahit medyo gahol sa araw. Sa tingin ko lalaban 101 porsyento ang ating mga manlalaro” added Abono.
“The national development series is a great pathway for both our homegrown athletes as well as the Hong Kong players to showcase their talent on the international stage. Both the PRFU and Hong Kong Rugby have had a positive relationship for many years and look to continually invest in this program each year,” said Matt Cullen, Director of Rugby for the Philippines.
The Philippines will kick off the two match series in August against Hong Kong at 12.00pm on Saturday 20th and Tuesday 23rd at 3.00pm at Southern Plains Field, Calamba Laguna.