Playing for Valley an unforgettable experience for Filipina duo

April 30, 2019

Photo courtesy of Celine Tomugdan 


While the Valley Black Ladies clinched an emphatic double in the Premiership this season, two Filipinas were quietly carving out their own piece of the action for the Red Ladies a division below.


As professed fans of centre Adrienne Garvey, Celine Tomugdan and Rica Therese Tan leapt at the chance to follow in their idol's footsteps, as well as to pull on the iconic red and black of Valley.


Not that the duo are strangers to rugby; both are graduates of the Exiles, which are a touch rugby team in Hong Kong unique in how they are fully comprised of Filipina domestic helpers. 


With volunteer coaches leading training sessions which take place on their Sunday breaks at Happy Valley or South Island School, they have participated in several competitions such as Hong Kong Tag, the Hong Kong Beach 5s and the 2019 DB Pirates All Girls Beach Tournament. 


Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Exiles


Having trained in excess of a year, making the leap to Rugby Union had always been an idea they had toyed with in the past and to do it with their favourite team made it extra special. 


"It was a great experience for me. I couldn't believe that I would play contact rugby with Valley. Before this, I only watched them at Happy Valley and I am their number one fan," said Tan, who played against Hong Kong Football Club. 


"Honestly I don't understand the game yet as this is my first time joining, but thanks to them I survived. Hope I can join them again - I learned a lot and they inspired me. It's so awesome and I love this game." 


Photo courtesy of Tom Walsh 


Tomugdan was equally ecstatic about her match against Revolution and thanked her teammates for their support. 


"For the first time I play contact rugby, I felt nervous as I don't know much about contact. But with amazing players of Valley, I feel am not behind with them," she said. 


"They are very supportive and will push you because they know I can do it and that made me feel comfortable when we started to play - the game was a wonderful experience for me." 


Both have since regrouped with the Exiles, which has now built such a large membership that a second team named "The Untouchables" has been created in order to cater to different levels of experience. 


Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Exiles


However, securing a pitch to train each week remains an issue for this group of passionate touch rugby players - something they hope fellow members of the Hong Kong rugby community can assist with. 


"I never played rugby before I joined Exiles," said Foreignay Gerald, who also swims with the Splash Foundation. 


"Now I really love it and it's the best thing to do on Sunday. But sometimes we can't find a pitch on and we would really appreciate any help to keep us playing!" 



Find out how you can get involved by visiting the Exiles' Facebook page.



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