PNRL Val Cabigting
PNRL Val Cabigting

By Erick Elefante, Date: 2/10/13

With just over a fortnight to go before the Rugby League International 9s on October 19 and the Asian Cup on October 21 at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in San Narciso, Zambales, two local Filipinos talk about their dual Rugby code experience.

Val Cabigting is one of the new generations of Rugby players in the Philippines, having picked up the game in the last couple of years and playing for one of the newest Rugby clubs the Globe Immortals RUFC, and ironically saying that Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL), PAL Tamaraws Captain, Luke Srama as his “Rugby Hero” and inspiration. 

Merchant Marine William Leysa is from the first generation of Rugby players in the Philippines. Playing for the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) formed in 2002 as the “Philippine Warriors”, the first “All Filipino” Rugby team. He is also a Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) International. Having represented the Philippines in both the U20 National teams and Development sides from 2009 to 2011, so has a lot of oval ball experience.

William also represents the reality of life in the Philippines which impacts the participation of local Filipinos in both Rugby codes. As a Merchant Marine he is out at Sea 9 months of the year limiting his participation on an oval ball field, in order to earn a good income compared to local workers, to support his family.

Interview with Val Cabigting

1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? (eg where were you born, how old are you, who do you work for etc etc)

I was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I moved to Philippines when I was 16 years old for college. I’m 24 years old now. I work as a freelance music teacher, also actively participating in Rugby union and development with my team.

2) When did you start playing Rugby Union, who did you play for and who do you currently play for?

I started Rugby Union on July 2011, I used to play with the Raging Bison, one of the development groups of the PRFU. I currently play for the Globe Immortals.

3) How did you find out about Rugby League and when did you start getting involved?

I was always curious about Rugby League ever since I started Union. When I heard PNRL is starting free clinics at Don Bosco, I never hesitated and went a couple of times despite the distance from my place. That was last year around August to October where I also met the Philippine Tamaraws. 

4) What do you think of Rugby League compared to Union?

Both sports have similar skill sets required to be able to play well. The most significant thing I noticed is the scrum of both sports is different. Rugby League is a simpler game. Very few technical rules and we get to play with the ball more.

5) How do you feel about playing your first Rugby League game in 2 weeks with the Clark City Crusaders? Mixed Emotions! As this is my first time playing Rugby League, also will be playing with my Fil-Aussie brothers who have been playing the sport for a while and I never met any of them yet. This should be fun. I can’t wait! 

6) What are your thoughts on the Rugby League Asian Cup being played in the Philippines this year and what do you think its impact will be on the game in the Philippines?

I think it’s a great moment for the Philippine Tamaraws to be playing in their own country! It will provide them the motivation and extra push! I also think it’s good for Rugby League Development and will engage the locals to learn more about the sport.

 

Interview with William Leysa

1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? (eg where were you born, how old are you, who do you work for etc etc)

I am William Rodriguez Leysa Jr., 24yrs old from General Santos City and currently living in Taguig City, I work for Island Overseas Transport Corp as 3rd Asst. Engr.

2) When did you start playing Rugby Union, who did you play for and who do you currently play for?

I learned Rugby when I entered MAAP, year 2008.  I was being recruited by my Upperclass, and also curious about the game.

I played for MAAP Warriors since then, and became the team captain and MIC in year 2010-2011. Until now I play as an Alumni MAAP Warrior and a Warrior is always a Warrior… =)

3) Have you represented the Philippines National side in Rugby Union & if you have, which teams and which years?

Yes, the first one was year 2008-2009, I was picked to play as winger in Under 20’s. Also, in year 2010-2011, winger of Development team, we play in Kota Kinabalo, Malaysia.

4) If you have represented the Philippines how did it feel like?

I am very proud and happy when I played in the national team, I like to represent the country and Rugby gave me that opportunity. I will not forget that experience.

5) When did you start your involvement with Rugby League?

Honestly, Rugby league was introduced to the team by coach Rick after I graduated. I played in the April 2012 game at MAAP and just recently restarted my involvement during the last practices in the Mall of Asia.

6) What do you think of Rugby League compared to Union?

I can’t really tell the difference now, cuz I haven’t actually played a full game of it. But I heard it is somehow similar, except the tackle and the supporting stuff. =)

7) How do you feel to be missing out on playing in the International 9s since you have to board ship for the next 9 months?

Unfortunately for me, I can’t play that tournament. I am somewhat disappointed because of that. But I hope I can play it next year.

8) How do you feel about being away from the Philippines for 9months being on board ship and what will you miss the most?

Of course I am not very happy about that. Being away from your love ones is like being alone in this world. But I take that as a sacrifice to a better future of my love ones. I miss so many people, places, events and food. Also I miss the pain and glory when I play Rugby. 

9) What are your thoughts on the Rugby League Asian Cup being played in the Philippines this year and what do you think its impact will be on the game in the Philippines?

Wow, I didn’t know that. I would like to watch that game. Better for the Philippines team to play here because of the crowd advantage and it will give a good inspirational impact to the Philippine team. I hope they will make it, to be #1 in Asia and in the world.

As oval ball players Val and William’s stories represent both the potential and challenge the PNRL has with introducing the “Greatest Game of All” in the Philippines. With the potential being that both have the basic oval ball skills through Rugby to transition into our game. But at the same time issues between differentiating both codes of Rugby from each other and more importantly finding time from the need to work in a developing country in order to survive to play either forms of the sport, are the tip of the ice berg of challenges.

Fite