Pinoy riposte when faced with defeat: Pagandahan na lang tayo. (If this were a beauty pageant we’d already have won.) Wolfie appears on the IRB banner.
In the morning the Philippines was up against Chinese Taipei. The winner would go through to the bowl final for 9th place overall against Kazakhstan.
Andrew Wolff scored the first try as the Bruneian girls in our section screamed, “Go Wolfie!” The announcer said, “Try to Wang Chung of Chinese Taipei.” He was a little confused. Then Mark Chatting scored his second try of the tournament, with a conversion by Harry Morris.
The Philippines was up 12-0 when Chinese Taipei scored two tries in a row to pull even. Just before the final whistle blew Justin Coveney grabbed the ball, ran flat-out and dove across the line, landing face-down on the pitch. Too exhausted to get up, he raised a hand and high-fived the referee. It was also his second try of the tournament, and Noel Flowers converted. This time the announcer got Noel’s name right—yesterday he was “Noel Fleur” and “Noel Fillers”.
The bowl final against Kazakhstan was in the afternoon. We asked some players what they thought of their chances.
Anything Patrice Olivier says is automatically adorable, so we asked him. (Everybody loves Patrice. The players freely admit it. “No,” Patrice says, “Some people hate me.” “Tell me who they are and I’ll have them killed!”)
Team captain Harry Morris assesses the Volcanoes’ performance at the Borneo 7s before the bowl final.
Patrice is like everyone’s baby brother, if your baby brother is 6’4″. We went to a McDonald’s because Patrice wanted a Milo McFlurry. The clerk said they were all out of Milo McFlurries and offered him an Oreo McFlurry instead. “I do not want an Oreo McFlurry,” Patrice said in the deep voice and French accent. “I am so disappointed.”
This exclusive coverage of the Philippine Volcanoes at the Borneo 7s is brought to you by JessicaRulestheUniverse.com and Globe Telecom.
I knew the Japanese were good, but hot damn they can move. They kept tackling whoever had the ball, and when someone retrieved it they tackled him too.
We lost both matches.
I just got off the bus with the team and it felt like a funeral in there so it falls upon me to be the ray of sunshine. This does not happen. However, having just most of the last 72 hours in these guys’ pockets, I will be a fucking ray of sunshine if I have to. I wasn’t exactly sent to Borneo for my lack of enthusiasm. (If you’re looking for psychotic intensity look no farther.)
The Volcanoes in red, the Japanese in blue. The Japanese 7s team plays together all year round. The members of the Philippine 7s team met each other last Tuesday and trained together for two days. Not an excuse, a factoid.
So here’s the upside. In the first game the Philippines lost to Japan 34-12. This is not a debacle. No one expected the Philippines to win. But the Volcanoes scored two tries (by Patrice Olivier and by Noel Flowers, conversion by Harry Morris) against Japan and after halftime came within 5 points. Japan is an established rugby nation and the defending champion in this tournament.
Noel pointed out that Sri Lanka could not match the physicality of the Filipino team. What they had was a very big player who had so much pace they couldn’t catch him. Noel, whose wife Lucy flew in from Cebu to watch him play, had two greatish matches. I guess if you grow up with the name Flowers in Australia, you’d better know how to play rugby.
In the second game the Philippines lost to Sri Lanka 26-12. The Volcanoes took the early lead (try by Justin Coveney, conversion by Harry Morris, try by Mark Chatting) 12-5 but Sri Lanka caught up in the second half and ran away. Sri Lanka is an established rugby nation, and for a fledgling sevens team to score two tries against them is, as Coach pointed out, progress.
“How did the Sri Lankan team catch up?” I asked. Harry said, “Panic.”
Now I will give you the nerd explanation, so those who have not read Dune may stop here. The Volcanoes are the Fremen scattered across the deserts of Arrakis. Japan are the Sardaukar, Sri Lanka the Harkonnen (I’m not suggesting they’re evil, just making a science-fiction analogy). The Fremen have the ability to beat the Sardaukar, but first they must unite and train with the Atreides and the Bene Gesserit. It will happen.
Tomorrow the Philippines competes for the Bowl. I feel like I should buy everyone a drink, but they’re not allowed and there are games to play tomorrow.
This exclusive coverage of the Philippine Volcanoes at the Borneo 7s is brought to you by JessicaRulestheUniverse.com through a sponsorship from Globe Telecom, which is not responsible for cusswords or Dune analogies.
After the morning training session the team checked into the tournament hotel, the Magellan at Sutera Harbour. Before they proceeded to their rooms we took a group photo.
The Philippine men’s sevens rugby team at the Borneo 7s. From left: Patrice Olivier, Noel Flowers, Andrew Farrar, Mark Chatting, Jon Morales, Harry Morris, Justin Coveney, Chris Everingham, Andrew Everingham, Ned Stephenson, David Carman, Andrew Wolff. Photo by Jessica Zafra. Nice smiles, no? I made them say, “Brush.”
I now pronounce you Harry and Wolfie.
The view from their rooms is fairly spectacular.
David Carman’s video was not supposed to have a naked guy in the background. Still, thank you, Ned Stephenson.
The afternoon training session was off, so the guys were at leisure until the tournament welcome dinner. “You have nothing to do until dinner?” I asked.
“How can you not find anything to do in a place like this?” Justin said, indicating the sea, the rolling hills, etc. “I don’t like nature,” I said.
So Andrew Farrar, Jon Morales, Noel Flowers, Mark Chatting and I decided to go to the mall. We’d been waiting for the hotel shuttle bus for ten minutes when we realized we had to sign up for the service, and anyway there were no seats left. Noel said there was a mall 200 meters away, so we started walking.
We approve of Mark Chatting’s hair.
Our individual concepts of “200 meters” varied, and it began to rain. We were about to walk across the highway when some girls in a passing car called out to us and waved. The guys waved back. The girls said, “Jessicaaaa!”
“And I was just thinking, Wow, pretty girls and they recognized us,” Jon said.
Jon says UP has a men’s touch rugby team but there are no other men’s touch rugby teams so they play against the girls’ team. “Do they win?” I asked. “Sometimes,” he said.
Jon is Fil-American and grew up in the US. His parents moved around a lot; by his count he’s lived in at least eight cities. “I can’t eat lamb,” he said as he perused the menu. We had ended up in a local cafeteria—there was a whole row of them, so we picked the one that had the most customers. (Our waiter was Filipino, from Zamboanga. He’s been in KK for a year.)
“I lived in New York for a year,” Jon explained, “and I usually ate at a kosher restaurant because it was cheap. I ate lamb every day and now I can’t look at it.” Recently Jon wound up a two-year contract teaching English in Beijing. Now he’s living and working in Manila and taking his masters in development studies at UP. He plays for the Nomads rugby club, and his usual position is sweeper. For this tournament he’s a forward.
“I’m on this team through sheer luck,” Jon said. “The four guys who were called up before me weren’t available, and then Coach Cullen couldn’t reach me because I changed my number.”
Andrew Farrar wants to be a miner. He wants to work underground where we can’t see him. That’s not right.
Andrew Farrar is Fil-Australian and went to school in Bacolod. He knows Tagalog but doesn’t speak it much because he mixes up his Tagalog and Ilonggo. He works in construction in Queensland, but what he really wants to do is work in a mine.
“A mine?!” Recalling the recent Chilean disaster.
“But in Australia it’s different, they use open-pit mining,” Andrew explained. “The miners get paid a thousand dollars a day, and that’s after taxes.”
They talked about friends from former national teams. “He used to be really ripped, like those Samoan kids, and now he looks like the warthog in Lion King,” Andrew said of one ex-player. Noel explained the strategy for the games this weekend—I fully understood one sentence every other paragraph, but I think I got the gist. The impact players on the team are Harry, Justin and Wolfie. “They’re the cornerstones,” Jon said.
Noel ate raw chillis. He says they contain more vitamin C than oranges. “My whole face is on fire,” he announced.