The weekend of March 24 and 25 was full of hard tackles, breathtaking tries, plenty of laughter and cheers, all sorts of good food, and overflowing beer. Once again, the Manila 10s International Rugby Festival was held at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. Just as in 2017, a great time was had by all.
The 2018 edition featured 24 competing rugby sides from all over the Philippines, coming from Metro Manila, Pampanga, Albay and Cebu. Teams also flew in from all over the world, like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, South Korea, Japan, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
Half of the field were local teams, evidence of the tremendous growth in the sport in the Philippines.
In the open division teams played in groups and were divided into Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield knockout competitions based on their group performance. There was also a Veterans (over 35) group. After 63 grueling matches lasting 10 to fifteen minutes, the Makati Chiefs-A team conquered the top-tier Cup title, Manila Nomads took the Plate, Makati Chiefs-B triumphed in the Bowl, Albay Bulkans triumphed in the Shield Division and the Fiji Golden Oldies ruled the Vets.
The camaraderie fostered during the “Best Social Rugby Tournament in the world” proved more important than wins and losses. The friendly nature of the event has been a hallmark of the tournament for almost 30 years. The San Lazaro Leisure Park, now the venue of the 10s for the second year, played a great part in everyone’s enjoyment. SLLP rolled out the red carpet in so many ways.
SLLP rested the grass inside the racetrack starting as early as November. The drainage was also improved and the main field was “crowned,” or made slightly higher in the middle for better water run-off. A smaller outer field was used for a touch rugby invitational tournament and youth clinics.
Dozens of concessionaire stands and marquee sponsor tents ringed the field. Gametime TV, San Lazaro’s sports channel on Cignal TV, broadcast the games live.
“It’s a great venue,” enthused Manila 10s chair Clair Barberis.
“Our sponsors and players are very happy. Eduardo Ramirez De Arellano, (Manila Jockey Club VP for Marketing), is so easy to work with and the Reyno family (of SLLP) have been so generous.”
Barberis also praised the wide open areas that allowed for not only two pitches but also plenty of ancillary activities. The abundance of parking spaces beside the racing grandstand was also a huge plus.
The Manila 10s was previously held annually in the old Nomads pitch in Merville. Unfortunately Nomads Sports Club lost control of that field after a long and protracted legal battle. The Nomads literally became nomadic, a rugby program without a field. But then the Manila Jockey Club stepped in and offered their pitches. A strong relationship was forged, and now the the two parties now have a memorandum of agreement to hold the Manila 10s there for the next five years.
“San Lazaro was sold on the tournament from the beginning and they threw in what was necessary to make it happen,” says Barberis.
The players are certainly appreciative of having a new place to enjoy the “game of hooligans played by gentlemen.”
“Having a place like this makes a huge difference,” says Nomads captain Jim Salter-Duke, who noted that the SLLP staff even constructed a permanent toilet facility beside the field.
“Nomads were looking for a home and San Lazaro opened their doors for us,” says Argentinian Nomads player Coco Krause.
The Philippine Rugby Football Union has held its top-tier 15-a-side club competitions at SLLP in the past. There are plans for even more rugby play in Carmona.
Apart from the grass fields within the racetrack SLLP also has the FIFA Artificial Football Pitch just a stone’s throw away. The regulation-size synthetic field is ringed by seating for over a thousand spectators. Soon lighting towers will make evening play possible.
The San Lazaro Leisure Park is opening its fields for rent for football, frisbee, American football, or rugby teams and leagues. Contact Jeng Arrazola at 09167766377 or Mikki Cardenas at 09178829312, 02-687-9889 loc 410 to book today.