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Moscow, minnows and Red Square

allblacks.com

allblacks.com     26 Jun 2013     allblacks.com

. All Blacks Sevens v the Philippine Volcanoes; who would have thought, but in the shadow of the giant Luzhniki Olympic Stadium, the two teams poles apart in the world of sevens, had a rare training hit out.

The Volcanoes made history when they qualified for their first ever World Cup – and the first World Cup in any team event for the country going on for some 50 years they say.

What better preparation than taking on the All Blacks Sevens. A country with just 13 clubs, 1400 players.

"Awesome," said Mike Letts, Volcanoes captain.

"It’s like the Filipino basketball team coming up against the USA 'dream team'. The boys are very excited, I am sure status updates on facebook for the guys will be saying ‘dream come true’ sort of thing. They are the best side in the world at the moment and they are all humble blokes so that makes it that much sweeter."
 
Funny thing, in the team plenty of Australian, French and Welsh accents - all players have Filipino mothers and play professional rugby in Japan. Coached by former USA coach Ali Caravelli and good enough to impress Sir Gordon Tietjens.

"They had to qualify to make the RWC Sevens so they go in with a lot of confidence and I certainly saw a lot qualities the Filipinos had. The funny thing about this game is that on any given day, any team can beat any team and you take your opportunities.

"For us, it was a good hit out, playing one of the sides at Rugby World Cup. We showed some good touches today, but at the same time it doesn’t matter what level any team is they can still expose you in certain areas and they are our work ons.

"We have another game against Scotland on Wednesday and they can be very tough so we can iron a few things out and hopefully a good three sessions against them."

For young rising sevens star Gillies Kaka who made the IRB Sevens Dream Team this season, Moscow is pretty special.

"It’s an awesome honour and just humbled to get the opportunity to play in the World Cup so really looking forward to it and it’s a great chance to stamp for next year as well."

And a chance to see another side of the world – the All Blacks Sevens and New Zealand Women’s Sevens teams made it to Red Square for their team photos.

Captain DJ Forbes: "I don’t think many of the boys would think of playing here let alone enjoying the sights. Hopefully we can top it off with a big weekend.

"It’s part and parcel of the rugby we play so it’s great that we can make most of these opportunities."

And the women nailed their photo just in time before Moscow Police moved them on.

"It’s beautiful, the architecture is amazing,” said Linda Itunu. "I feel really privileged to be here."