In a provincial fishing town in the Philippines called San Narciso it isn’t the Rugby League World Cup that has ignited their interest in “The Greatest Game of All”, it’s when the game itself, rolled into their town that has sparked interest.
Local Aurora Valenton gives a Philippines fans perspective on rugby league.
It was heartening to read the positive impressions Rugby League left in the eyes of the locals of San Narciso and how a month from the day that “The Greatest Game” rolled into Town they are still talking about it.
I was not a fan of Rugby League, nor was I interested in it, not even in the slightest. I didn’t even care about the rugby league game that was about to be held at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in my home town in San Narciso, but one afternoon, if I am not mistaken it was October 18, while I was on my afternoon walk I saw very tall white guys with a red & black shirts playing or maybe doing their warm ups. I am not sure for I am so far from them. They look cool from afar & I wanted to see them up close playing. Being a ‘not-so-much-of-a-rugby league-fan’ changed when I finally watched an amateur & a professional rugby league game, it was so damn awesome!! I can’t remember much of the game, but there are those unforgettable tackles, bumping & those cool touch-downs -I WAS LIKE OH MEN!!! I WANT TO PLAY RUGBY LEAGUE TOO!!
On October 19, 2013 an amateur rugby league tournament was held at PMMA the Zambales 9s, & I am telling you it was awesome, so damn awesome, all the kids were amazed with the game.
There was a game between the kids & they all looked cute & they are determined to win the game & afterwards it’s all just a game after all, they are a real sport. They got bumped, some of them fell badly that the game was almost stopped, but they didn’t let them stop the game, they still played the game with full determination to win it & at the end of the game both winners & losers showed their proud faces in front of all the players.
The amateur & professional rugby league players were entertained by how the kids played the game seriously yet not forgetting how to enjoy it. Even I was proud of them, & envious how little they are but they can play something as rough as rugby league.
Then there were the games between the PMMA, Clark City Crusaders, Cebu City Chiefs, MAAP Kings, MAAP Warriors, Anscor Swires, Don Bosco and TMS. The games played by the PMMA & MAAP teams were the ones that really caught my attention. Everyone was frantic, both teams have their own fans. I had to admit they were awesome & both team made it hard for the opponent team to win, & the crowds were all shouting, screaming for the team they were rooting for & the players that caught their attention. I was confused because all I know is that they would score once they had put the ball on the goal post but the players keep on running. I don’t even know who’s ‘on-the-lead’. I really don’t know what was going on, but damn they were good games. I couldn’t take my eyes of the players who were holding the ball, & then I heard my mom talking with Chris Van Putten one of the PNRL Board members. I had to admit the game was vicious & tough, but it was woooowwww!!! I can’t help but eavesdrop with what they are talking about. Chris explained to my mom how the game goes, -but it was hard to get- hahaha, but what amazed me is that a rugby league player loses 5 kilos with every game, it was like wow!! I have to jog like 1 week for me to be able to lose 5 kilos, & because the game is really tough, a player can only play the game like once a week if I can remember it correctly.
With everything I learned, heard & watched in the Zambales 9s tournament. I was eager to watch a real professional rugby league game, & especially a live one. It made me think highly of the rugby league players, I was wrong that it was all about the muscles & the good good looking players. But it was about also about team work, strategy, endurance, strength, a will to win & the love for the sport. The game was vicious yet cool & the players & the referees were a real ball of fire.
Finally the much awaited game was on. It was worth the wait. On October 21, 2013 at PMMA THE REAL PROFESSIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE BEGINS!!! It’s the match between the Philippine Tamaraws vs. Thailand Stars & my wait for the real professional game was all worth it, they both rocked!!! They didn’t disappoint me, nor the crowd, everyone was anxious & excited with the game. The crowd as well didn’t disappoint the Philippine Tamaraws, they were so loud with how they cheered & rooted for the team.
When the game began everyone was so loud, & the game was worth getting my throat sore & almost falling off where I was standing from rooting for the Tamaraws. I was watching the game but to be honest I don’t know a thing or two about it, but I enjoyed all the slamming, bumping & running that excited me & the crowd. Rugby League is Greek to me & it is still Greek to me, only my friend Harold Aguilo a local Rugby League coach explained to me what’s happening.
Everyone was so loud specially when the ball is on the possession of the Tamaraws, the Tamaraws was always on the ball. & that made the crowd cheer for them more. At that time all you can hear was “GO TAMARAWS!!!” “TAMARAWS, TAMARAWS, TAMARAWS!!” & when the ball is on the possession of the Stars everyone keeps on shouting “DEFENCE! DEFENCE!”. Even I, can’t help but shout & scream, & with every try of the Tamaraws the crowd went wild. Even my boyfriend Lorenz Copia was already getting irritated with how loud I was & my friends were. I’ve got a very loud mouth.
It was a hot afternoon, but no one cares because the game was hotter & more intense than the sun. It was so cool how the players act like everything was fine & that they are not that badly hurt when there are like 5 players on top of them while they are guarding the ball & still won’t let go.
The most unforgettable part of the game was when the Thailand stars were real close to our goal post & the Tamaraws were on full defense. The cheering of the crowd was deafening, they’ve gone wild, everyone kept on shouting “TAMARAWS!!!” “GO TAMARAW!!” & “DEFENCE”. Even my 11 year old neighbor was so hooked up with the game that she can’t take her eyes from the field, & even a week had passed after the game she keeps on bringing up the rugby league game topic whenever she sees me.
Everyone gave their best shot, but the Tamaraws won & the crowd was frantic about the result of the game all their cheering gave the Tamaraws extra strength, and energy and filled up their fighting spirit, all the ones who watched the game was so proud, it was as if we were the ones who played & won.
I have to thank the Thailand Stars for being a good opponent of the Tamaraws, without them the game wouldn’t be that much enjoyable as it had been. When the MC announced that the Tamaraws were the official winner everyone was so happy, loud & wanted to be able to take pictures & have their shirts signed. Everyone was on the field. Everyone knows that the Tamaraw was the winner because the score was a landslide, yet hearing the MC announced that the Philippine Tamaraws won it was so nice, I even had goosebumps.
Not many of the crowd gave the Thailand Stars much attention, but without the Stars they wouldn’t enjoy the game. So my boyfriend and I went to the place were the Stars were, we took picture with them & congratulated them because they gave us something to enjoy, a very entertaining match to be watched. I guess the Stars run out of the will to win, with everyone shouting “GO TAMARAWS” their fighting spirit were unlike the Tamaraws. All the audience were rooting for the Tamaraws; the PMMA employees & their family, the students & teachers of Magsaysay Memorial College, Zambales Academy & La Paz National High School, & the citizen of San Narciso were on the side of the Tamaraws, no wonder the Stars lost the will to win, yet they did try their best until the end so “HEADS UP FOR THE THAILAND STARS!!!”
Like every soap operas, movie, book that we read, the game had ended & it was a very heartwarming ending. The team shook hands, talked to each other, congratulated each & everyone, & they still have their proud faces to show all the audience win or lose they did their best & that’s what matters the most.. Even though the game was intense & the full body contacts was so “BAM” hard & rough & all the body blow was hard & I know it hurts so much, with all their muscles slamming with the muscles of the opponent team, both team were a real sport.
Until now I still don’t know how the game goes & how it’s played all I know is RUGBY LEAGUE ROCKS & I wanted to be part of a rugby league game for women. It’s not just body slamming, it’s just like every game-it’s just Rugby League is one of the hardest sport & a real physical sport- it needs team work, self-confidence, trust for all your teammates specially your couches, strategy, endurance, strength, your fighting spirit & how much you want to win the game & make the crowd enjoy the game.
Rugby League don’t require you to be tall or anything, because even the small players were a real big part of the team. Rugby League needs determination, a real good stamina, a real good body that can endure all the blows & heart that beats for the team & for the game. After all it’s just a game. It has a beginning & an end, all that matters is you enjoy what you are doing & at the end of every game you will always remember that it’s just a game & every game has a winner & has a loser, you have to be a sport & accept the result, ya’ll did your best & that’s the reason you are playing, to gain experience & to be a real sport. Until now I can still hear the PMMA employees’ kids talk about the game, & I am waiting for 6 more months to watch another game.. & I hope this won’t be the last time the Tamaraws will bring us a very entertaining game here at PMMA’s Grandstand. For the others Thailand Stars lost the game & they are the loser this time, but for me Thailand Stars & Philippine Tamaraws are both winners & they both rock. But the TAMARAWS ARE THE CHAMPION OF THAT GAME, THE KING OF THE PLAY & THE SAVIOR OF THE DAY. Every sports is no mans game, but win or lose I’ll still shout at the top of my lungs “GO TAMARAWS!!! YOU’RE THE BEST & WE THANK YOU FOR A VERY ENTERTAINING GAME YOU HAD SHOWN US!!!