Tamaraws tackle to bring NRL to the Philippines
The Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL), also known as the Tamaraws, is providing more opportunities for Filipinos around the world to represent their nation on a global stage.
Guided by their CEO, former Super Rugby and National Rugby League (NRL) player Paul Sheedy, the organisation is aiming to work with young children, both in Australia and overseas, to grow the sport across the Philippines and other developing Asian nations.
With the PNRL, there’s a better chance for Filipinos to get out there and do something good and raise the level of awareness of Filipino culture around the world.
“We want to start getting into the schools there and teaching them about exercise, teamwork and nutrition, and give the locals something to aspire to and work towards,” Paul said.
“There’s no reason they can’t be playing on the world stage in the 2025 or 2029 World Cup, so that’s the main goal.”
Since 1908, there have only been ten Australians with Filipino ancestry in NRL teams, and Paul said he hopes to see this number increase over the coming years.
“Growing up there weren’t too many Filipinos in Australia back in the 80s and 90s and being a Filo kid there were some tough times we had to deal with because we would always get harassed at school because we were dark-skinned or different,” he said.
Now, the way Australia’s changed in the last 20 years, its multiculturalism is amazing and we really embrace those differences.
The PNRL is currently ranked 27th in the world, making them the highest ranked sporting team of the Philippines.
The team will be competing in the upcoming Emerging Nations World Cup in Sydney in November 2018, and are aiming to finish on top. Other competing nations include Thailand, Niue, Vanuatu and Malta.
“If we win this tournament, it’ll make us seventh in the Asia-Pacific region,” Paul explained.
“If we maintain that seventh position, we’ll get to play in a world cup qualifier next year, which will be enormous for our seniors and our continued aspirations of growing rugby in the Philippines.”
The sporting organisation is currently working to differentiate themselves from Rugby Union in order to allow them to visit schools for workshops.
“We’re just starting to put some programs together and we’re meeting a lot of people in the Philippines who want to help out and we want to start by going to help the kids living on the streets or in poorer regional areas,” Paul said.
We’re trying to develop the region and not just the Philippines, and last year we went to Thailand on tour and we were there to promote Rugby League and it was just an all round great experience.
Currently, the PNRL is self-funded, sometimes making it difficult for the team to gather their best talent to compete in tournaments or attend overseas tours.
To help with their mission of increasing the representation of Rugby League in Asia, the PNRL are looking for sponsors to assist in covering some of their expenses.