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Pambansang Ragbi Liga Ng Pilipinas are delighted to announce the affiliation with Auckland based Rugby League team United Eagles Rugby League. The Eagles Rugby League are the first all-Asian based rugby league team endorsed by Counties Manukau Rugby League (CMRL) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) established in 2014 to compete in Auckland’s Ethnic Cup competition. The team is made up of 70% Filipino players with a mix of other players from Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong to complete the list. They have had 5 final wins (3 as the Dragons) in 8 seasons of competitions since 2014. With a host of national players having represented the Tamaraws, Volcanoes, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

The PNRL have been keen 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 the sport of Rugby League to our 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 development or even a national level and provide access to national development programs.

Ex Tamaraw player Odyssey Laderas leads the Eagles with experience, training and lifting the Asia Cup for the Philippines with our Australian based Philippine heritage Tamaraw squad. Using these skills together with Tamaraw development player Carmilo Manuyag (Head Coach of Eagles), they 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 driving force of the team from the start with a clear vision of where this group could go. He also ensured transition from Eagles to Dragons and maintaining the proud name of the “Eagles” for future use as they 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 Ethnic Rugby League Competition was established in 2013 under the management of NZRL’s Counties Manukau RL with General Manager Kasey King. The competition currently accommodates the following teams, the Counties Manukau Piranhas, Auckland Wasps, Onehunga Guardianz, the Eagles, and the Dragons, and is made up from groups of ethnicities particularly from New Zealand’s increasing Asian communities not renowned for playing Rugby League. The players gain an insight into the world of Rugby league through the competition each year which has led to players selected to represent their country of origin through international matches.

The Ethnic Rugby League competition is a great concept which ensures a consistent player pool for Asian heritage players in New Zealand. This concept should be mirrored by all Rugby League governing bodies around the world especially when you look at Asian demographics in countries such as UK and USA.

“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 focus on support at all aspects of the game, whether on or off the field,” says Eagles Manager – Odyssey Laderas

“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 to 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.

The Ethnic Cup competition returns Oct 2, 2021, with the Eagles commencing training and trials at the end of August.