Philippines Sevens relishing underdog status

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 25 June 2013  
 
 Philippines Sevens relishing underdog status
The Philippines trained with the All Blacks Sevens team in Moscow ahead of the RWC Sevens - Photo: Judy Teasdale

The Philippines Sevens side head into this weekend's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow with "nothing to lose" according to captain Michael Letts.

Letts' side booked their place at the showpiece event in Russia by beating Korea in Singapore to claim Asia's third and final spot in Russia.

It is also the first time that a Philippines national side in any team sport has qualified for a world championship or World Cup event, which Letts hopes will have a beneficial impact on Rugby back home.

"It is amazing for us, representing the Philippines at a World Cup, that is an achievement in itself," said Letts.

"Rugby is very new in the Philippines and this will hopefully open doors and expose us a little bit more.

"I am sure there are millions of Filipinos around the world who don't even know we have a Rugby side, but hopefully when they see us on the TV they will get involved and if they do play Rugby hopefully play for us one day."

Coached by former USA Sevens head coach Al Caravelli, the Philippines had a training session with the current Series champions New Zealand ahead of the weekend.

With Sir Gordon Tietjens on hand to give advice and the likes of IRB Sevens Player of the Year nominee Tim Mikkelson and Tomasia Cama to learn from, Letts and his teammates were blown away by the experience.

Dream come true

"It was a bit surreal," added Letts. "There was a lot of talking about it before hand, a lot of our Facebook statuses were like "oh my god we are playing against the ABs", it is really like a dream come true.

"No matter how much fitness you have done you still feel unfit when you go against these guys, they are a class above. They are all full time and that makes a huge difference.

"A few of us play in Japan but we're not full time and when we came into camp on 2 June we had to cram everything in that for the World Cup and that is the most difficult aspect, but I think we will do well."

The Philippines face Zimbabwe and HSBC Sevens World Series core team Kenya at the Luzhniki Stadium in the pool stages, but their training with Tietjens' side may be most beneficial for their match at 09:00 on day two against Samoa.

"They (Samoa) arrived late last night and they are on the same floor as us in the team hotel, and some of our boys were like "wow they are big," joked Letts.

"Some of our guys are 18 or 19 and they kept saying they were a lot smaller [than the Samoans]. But we have nothing to lose, all the pressure is on those sides and we like the underdog status so we will go out there enjoy it, have a crack and go down swinging."

You can watch all the matches from the Luzhniki Stadium live on rwcsevens.com.