Rugby League in the Philippines wasn’t a prevalent thought in anyone’s mind. Until mid-2011 when the “Philippines Rugby League” Facebook page was created.
Filipino Australian rugby league players, former players and anyone with the love of the “Greatest Game of All” started to form the first wave of interest.
A small group of interested and passionate men congregated at the Rugby Club in the Rocks, Sydney Australia for the inaugural meeting of the board which took place on the 11th of January 2012. In attendance were Greg Cross, Michael Holt, Mark De Ubago, Erick Elefante and Rick Hartley. Their second meeting took place at the same place 5 days later on the 16th of January where Clayton Watene and Tas Baitieri (RLIF International Development Officer) was an addition to the committee which attended a week prior.
These men became the founding fathers of the Philippines Rugby League (PRL), soon to be renamed the Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) for strategic purposes.
FROM CARABAOS TO TAMARAWS
After some curious questioning by the Filipino public in regards to the team’s mascot (Carabao). The board discussed an icon change. The Carabao was not native to the Philippines and was a common farming animal found all over South East Asia, they’re known to be quite docile and passive so we decided that the “Carabao” was not a suitable mascot for a “gladiatorial sport” like Rugby League.
The replacement mascot would be a Tamaraw which is a native and unique bovine. Known to be aggressive, and stoically strong defenders of their territory. The PNRL felt that the Tamaraw fitted the best as the new icon for the team.
MAJOR NATIONAL TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS
2nd February 2012, The first major event organized by the PNRL was to enter a team in the 2012 Cabramatta International 9’s tournament for which we triumphed and won the Bowl! This made the Carabaos the first international team in the events history to achieve this.
21st October 2012, With their Cabramatta International 9’s win as their foundation, the PNRL focused on winning the inaugural Asian Cup tournament in Thailand and convincingly did so with an 86-0 whitewash of Thailand at the Royal Thai Police Stadium in Bangkok.
21st of October 2013, a year later the Tamaraws defended their Asian Cup crown with a 46-10 dominant display over Thailand in front of over a thousand San Narciso Filipino locals who had watched their first game of Rugby League. The atmosphere was electric and will be forever remembered by the Tamaraws players and staff as one of their most favorite life moments.
GRASSROOTS DEVELOPMENT ACHIEVEMENTS
October 2012, Rick Hartley and BJ Brutus Echano commence Rugby League training with Merchant Marine students at SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.
April-August 2013, Tom Simpson, Harold Aguilo and Edmond Brocoy started training local Filipino children in San Narciso.
26th of January 2014, Ric Raymond Bellen organizes the first PNRL tournament with PNG students studying with Site Skills Training, Site and Orion Project Services (PNG) and the Ipatas Foundation Inc in Clark City.