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The Sweet Smell of Sampaguitas

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Benjie de Ubago
Benjie de Ubago
Benjie de Ubago is a writer contributor to several publications. She was awarded the Premier’s Multicultural Media Lifetime Achievement Award in NSW. Check out www.filipin-oz.com for more of her articles.

In our Filipino culture, women are handled delicately like flowers and treated as fragile. Women are sugar and spice and everything nice adorned with ruffles and lace. I grew up in that atmosphere where my Mum banned us girls from playing outside in the streets or to indulge in anything that had any semblance of “rough.” We were confined to board games that would not put a scratch on our legs. Women are encouraged to maintain smooth skins, bleach their skins for white is a better option. Influenced by our Sta Cruzan tradition wherein girls are paraded in the streets, runways, parades and pageant are the preferred options and perhaps have become obsessions.   

So you can imagine my shock when I see our Filipina women are engaged fully in the game of rugby league – the rough and tumble of all sports.

The Pambansang Ragbi Liga Ng Pilipinas (also known as Philippine National Rugby League) are now on its 12th year and the Philippine Tamaraws have multiplied from one team of 15 players to six teams – an under 16 team, an under 18 team, the Senior team and the Admirals, with others waiting in the wing for a chance to play. Plus they have four rugby league teams in the Philippines.  They now also have the female counterpart of the Tamaraws – the Sampaguitas, the national flower of the Philippines, and yes, also with a junior (under 16) and a senior team to boot.

u18s winners
u18s winners
Sampaguitas
Photo: Jazmine Nery
Sampaguitas
Photo: Jazmine Nery
Sampaguitas
Photo: Jazmine Nery
Sampaguitas
Photo: Jazmine Nery
Sampaguitas
Photo: Jazmine Nery

The Sampaguitas were established in 2017 and are the first Asian Women’s rugby league team with a 14th world ranking on the international rugby league scene. As delicate as the girls may look, they’ve traded high heels for their rugby boots, shorts and jerseys.  These young ladies are tough and ready for a scrum and a tackle and can outrun their male counterparts. More importantly they are proudly Filipino! 

READ  Philippine Women's Rugby League team Sampaguitas defeat Greece

The Sampaguita team clinched the Friendship Cup 2023 by wiping out the Malta team 41-0 at a game at Cabramatta Leagues Club on 28 October.  The Junior Tamaraws (under 18) also won the Friendship Cup 2023 n the same day, defeating Malta 28-22 

The Sampaguita team was propelled to victory by their team captains Renee Target and Tammy Fletcher, the latter being also a player until this year.  The charming Tammy claims “I’ve always been interested in sports – the tougher the better.”  Growing up, she played netball and hockey but “prefers contact sports.” In 2010, she played for the women’s rugby union team in Wollongong. She continues her passion for the sport while juggling her mummy duties for three children. She won’t be on the field but will continue to coach the Sampaguitas.

But don’t be fooled, because these beauties are ready to tumble to score and more than qualified for the runway and any pageant. To join or cheer them on at their next games, follow them on their FB page, instagram and www.pnrl.org

– www.filipin-oz.com

Photos by Jazmine Nery

Benjie de Ubago
Benjie de Ubago
Benjie de Ubago is a writer contributor to several publications. She was awarded the Premier’s Multicultural Media Lifetime Achievement Award in NSW. Check out www.filipin-oz.com for more of her articles.

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