As seen on ABS.CBN News (https://news.abs-cbn.com/sports/08/20/21/pinoy-rugby-players-mula-ph-at-nz-nagsanib-puwersa)
26th August, 2021
Counties-Manukau Rugby League has been delivering the game to its Asian community since 2013, creating opportunities and pathways for participants not usually renowned for playing rugby league.
The Ethnic competition and encouraging diversity in the game have always been priorities for Counties-Manukau; therefore the affiliation between Pambansang Ragbi Liga Ng Pilipinasand Auckland based rugby league team, United Eagles, was a natural fit.
The Eagles are the first all-Asian based rugby league team endorsed by Counties Manukau Rugby League (CMRL) and the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) to compete in Auckland’s Ethnic Cup competition. The team comprises 70% Filipino players with a mix of other players from Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
The Ethnic Rugby League Competition was established in 2013 by NZRL’s Counties Manukau Rugby League General Manager Kasey King. The competition currently accommodates the following teams, the Counties Manukau Piranhas, Auckland Wasps, Onehunga Guardianz, the Eagles, and the Dragons. It comprises groups of ethnicities, mainly from New Zealand’s increasing Asian community not renowned for playing rugby league. The players gain valuable rugby league experience through the competition each year, leading to players being selected to represent their country of origin through international matches.
The PNRL have longed to establish a partnership with the Eagles for some time now, with talks over the past week confirming the interest on both sides. With this affiliation, the PNRL will assist in expanding the reach of rugby league to the New Zealand based Filipino players and increase Filipino participation in the six-week Ethnic Cup competition held yearly. The affiliation will also provide pathway opportunities for players to represent the Philippines at a developmental or national level and provide access to national development programs.
Ex-Tamaraw player Odyssey Laderas and current player Carmilo Manuyag (Head Coach of Eagles) have been actively working with Asian based NZ players of all levels to provide a safe pathway for player representation into the Ethnic Cup competition. Carmilo has also been the team’s driving force from the start, with a clear vision of where this group could go. He also ensured the transition from Eagles to Dragons to keep the reputational name of Eagles for future use as we had family sabbaticals during this time. The PNRL will work closely with the pair to help increase their overall participation numbers with the goal of entering more development teams into the Ethnic Cup competition each year.
“The affiliation with the Philippines governing body for the sport of Rugby League (PNRL) will provide pathways for rugby league development and participation of NZ based Filipinos. This will also ensure a healthy, active club and international membership. Built on family and brotherhood as its foundation, we encourage each other to excel in our talents and abilities with a focus on support at all aspects of the game, whether on or off the field,” says Eagles Manager.
“We look forward to working with Carmilo and Odyssey to promote and develop Philippine Rugby League and share our values to our fellow New Zealand based Filipinos. We want to be part of the Eagles future successes and share these achievements with the rugby league community. We hope other rugby league associations will follow suit and provide the same opportunities for heritage players across the globe. Rugby League is a game for everyone, regardless of size, skill, gender, or ethnicity,” PNRL President Reynaldo Nery states.