The Philippines came away from the recent Hong Kong Sevens having made an historic return to the tournament after an absence of seven years.
Having never beaten a side outside of Asia, the Philippines created history with a 24-12 win over Zimbabwe and in doing so reached the quarter-finals of the qualifier tournament.
Justin Coveney, who opened the scoring against Zimbabwe, looked back on the Hong Kong weekend with great memories.
“It was a very successful weekend for the Union, its players and all administrators involved,” said Coveney.
“The weekend proved that the Philippines can compete on the world stage and has the playing group to win matches and challenge teams who have established and professional sevens programs.
“Our matches, particularly against Zimbabwe, demonstrated that we have a well balanced team with both speed and power, with our young halves directing play with great precision and instinct.
“We achieved our team goal to make the quarter finals and despite not progressing further, the team is hungry for greater success and will again push for another shot at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens.”
Another attempt at qualifying for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 12 months is one thing, but before then there is another Asia Rugby Sevens Series and an Olympic qualifier in Korea to contend with.
Not to mention hosting this year’s SEA Games as they look to replicate the gold they won in 2015.
For the fifteens too, an ARC Division I awaits with the Philippines taking on Sri Lanka on 29 May before a final or third place play-off against Singapore or Chinese Taipei on 1 June.
Coveney, who has been part of the Philippines set up since 2010, has seen the development of rugby in his country and despite several “ups and downs” has been delighted to have been part of the recent success.
“This is my 10th year with the Philippines, so I have definitely been part of the ups and downs,” explained Coveney.
“The success of making the Hong Kong Sevens in 2012, qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013, and Asian Games in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and winning gold at the 2015 SEA Games were all great achievements.
“But they became somewhat overshadowed by relegation from the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in 2015 and not gaining promotion in 2016.
“However, in 2017, the PRFU and its players made a commitment, starting with the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy in Doha.
“Win the tournament, make it back into the main series, and push for a top three spot in Asia.
“A core group from the Doha series, coupled with a new group of exciting recruits, and the guidance of head coach Frano Botica, has achieved those goals.
“Exciting new players like Donald Coleman and Tim Berry have really added more impact to the team and, as stated above, we have developed into a well balanced team of experience and youth, capable of challenging the top teams in Asia and the world.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be part of the success, particularly knowing how much hard work and dedication that has gone into coming together as a team.”
Justin Coveney spoke to Asia Rugby after the Hong Kong Sevens. This is the first part of a two-part series hearing from the Philippines star, with the second part due ahead of the upcoming Asia Rugby Championship Division I competition.