Team manager Phil Gittus, Justin Coveney (with earbuds), and players who were asleep because they’ve been training almost continuously since Tuesday afternoon. Justin is a lawyer in Sydney. He does civil suits; mostly they represent insurance companies. Does that mean you’re evil? I asked. He said they had to deal with a lot of ambulance chasers.
Dispatch from moving bus. We’re on the way to Clark airport to catch the flight to Kota Kinabalu. On board: 11 members of the national men’s rugby team, Coach Matt Cullen, Manager Phil Gittus, and trainer Damian Raper. The 12th member we pick up at the gas station after SM North. More on him later.
The team will compete at the Borneo 7s, where they placed sixth overall last year. This year they’re ranked tenth after the disappointment of the Shanghai 7s. The Volcanoes are hoping to qualify for the 2011 Hong Kong 7s, the biggest most prestigious sevens tournament on earth.
The captain of the Borneo 7s team is Harry Morris, who is already known to readers of this website. (The first thing he said: “Are you prepared to see some skin on this tour?” I said, “We’re not used to seeing you clothed.”)
According to Coach Matt Cullen, this is a bigger, stronger team than the one sent to Shanghai. Many of the members are playing for the Philippines for the first time: there’s Patrice Olivier, 20, who’s Filipino-French. He says he doesn’t speak much English, so my 12 units of French and many Eric Rohmer movies may come in handy (I know two horrible cusswords).
Say Bonjour to Patrice, one of the newest members of the Philippine Volcanoes. He’s from the south of France. I noted that there are lots of Filipinos in France. I’ve never seen a Filipino in France, he said. Except my sister. To his right is team trainer Damian Raper. He’s not Filipino, and he has no emotional/cultural and especially no financial reason to be working with the Volcanoes. He just believes in the cause and wants to help. People like that do exist.
The team bus made a pit stop in QC to pick up the 12th player, who is probably known to you. His name is Andrew Wolff. “Do we have to pick him up because he’s a celebrity?” I asked. No, it’s because he lost his wallet at their office building the other night. This morning he checked his facebook account and saw a message: a security guard had found his wallet. So he went to retrieve his wallet, and we retrieved him.
Andrew Wolff has nerd cred. He got his A levels in Math and Latin.
Digression. Andrew Wolff is even more beautiful from three inches away than on a billboard thirty feet high. I know this because I am sitting next to Andrew Wolff. To be more exact, we are scrunched into a two-person seat and his muscles take up a lot of room. Oh the horror and tedium of my life, that I have to squeeze into a seat with Andrew Wolff.
By the way we will refer to him as Wolfie as there are three Andrews on the team: Wolff who is half-Brit and speaks pretty good Tagalog, having lived here five years; and Everingham and Farrar, both half-Australian.
This exclusive coverage of the Philippine Volcanoes at the Borneo 7s is brought to you by JessicaRulestheUniverse.com through a sponsorship from Globe Telecom.