Donald Coleman and his Philippines teammates are all set for this weekend’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier.
Having beaten Sri Lanka in the third and final round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, the Philippines secured enough points to finish third behind Japan and Hong Kong overall and book a spot on the qualifier in Hong Kong.
The squad for pool matches against fellow Asian representatives Hong Kong, Zimbabwe and Tonga is a blend of experience and youth.
One of the up and coming stars is Donald Coleman who spoke to Asia Rugby ahead of a big weekend for the Philippines.
“The Philippine rugby team is family to me,” said Coleman. “To be selected in the squad for the qualifier means everything to me, I get to put my heart out on the field with all my brothers and perform for a country that we all love.
“It makes my parents proud when I run out on the pitch and play for my country of heritage, that is also very important to me.”
Despite a tough pool, the Philippines know that their experience of playing and competing with the likes of Japan and Hong Kong gives them optimism ahead of the qualifier.
“It is very important to put in a good performance in the qualifier,” added Coleman.
“We have already shown that we can compete with teams like Japan and Hong Kong and we want to make sure we keep improving.
“I have a good feeling as everyone has turned up in shape and we have worked pretty hard.
“So it means a lot to this team to perform well and win some games. We are really pushing for some early success in the tournament, we want to make a statement that we are here to compete.”
With the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, Asia will have at least two representatives in both the men’s and women’s competitions with Japan qualifying automatically as hosts.
The qualifier for the men will take place in Korea in November which means the Philippines have another tournament to look forward to which continues to add exposure for a sport that is continually developing.
“Philippine Rugby continues to grow each year, especially in grassroots rugby within local communities and schools,” explained Coleman.
“A goal for the Philippines is to get Rugby into the school curriculum, that way it can be grown within the nation. Another main aim for Philippine Rugby is to look to invest more into domestic competitions, to ensure rugby remains sustainable in the Philippines.
“Overall, it’s a young sport, but progressing forward which is great to see. The more success we have as a national team the better rugby will continue to grow.”