TWO Cebuanas etched a piece of history after helping the Philippines win the Div. B title of the PICC Asian Rugby Football Union Women’s 7s Championships last July 24 and 25 in Guangzhou, China.
The Philippines also finished ninth overall.
“It was a respectable finish considering this was our first international tournament,” said Beekay de los Santos, one of the Cebuana members of the ladies’ rugby team.
The other Cebuana member is Aiumi Ono.
Thirteen countries took part in the two-day meet, including first-timers Korea and Philippines.
The 13 teams were divided into four groups, and the top two in each group advanced to Div. A, while the bottom two got relegated to Div. B.
Unfortunately, the Philippines was grouped with China and Hong Kong, Asia’s top and fifth-ranked teams, respectively.
After getting relegated to the second division with losses to China (36-0) and Hong Kong (31-0), the Philippines stamped its class and didn’t concede a single try in four Div. B matches.
“If only we weren’t grouped with China and Hong Kong, we could have had better chances in Div. A. Other Div. A teams lost by as much as 45 points or more in other games.
Even other teams were impressed with how the Philippines played against China and Hong Kong,” de los Santos said.
RP dumped the Korean team, 31-0, and survived a very physical Indian team, 17-0. India was fresh from a one-month training camp as preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
Entering the Div. B semis, the Philippines defeated Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist, Laos, 40-0, and routed Malaysia in the finals, 20-0.
“I’m very fortunate for having been selected to be part of the first ever national ladies rugby team. Representing our country is an absolutely huge honor for any athlete. Every time we stepped on the rugby pitch, we always thought that we were playing not for ourselves but for the country and for those who believed in us that we can do it. I’m very proud and I think we lived up to people’s expectations before we went to China,” de los Santos said.
The Philippine Rugby Football Union is concentrating on forming a national ladies 15’s for next year competition as part of its compliance for membership to the International Rugby Board, the world governing body for rugby union.
It is also waiting for confirmation from the Philippine Sports Commission if the country will send a rugby team to the Asian Games.