Acee San Juan: “rugby nerd” helps Philippines RFU rebuild strength after illness

We had the new PRFU General Manager of Development, Competition and Coaching and Training to discuss how his football life prepared him for the job.

Acee San Juan is a “rugby nerd” who has proven himself. Ever since he was introduced to the game while playing football in college, the Filipino has never been seen without an oval ball.

After becoming an innovator, San Juan immersed itself in his newfound passion as he retired from world -class player, coach, director, coach and the development manager.

Last month, he was promoted to the position of General Manager for Development, Competition and Training and Education at the Philippines Rugby Football Union (PRFU), taking on some of the responsibilities previously held by fellow GM Jake Letts.

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It was the first few weeks in the making for San Juan, who believed his experiences of the past ten years or so would not stand up to him as he tried to help the PRFU address the aftermath of the crisis. the disease.

“It was like I went to the stage,” San Juan told World Rugby.

“I’m using that knowledge in my current position and I know it’s valuable because I know what it’s like to be an observer, a competitor, etc. So that’s what I’m going to take. in my position. “


He may have needed to know the different activities in the game for his work at PRFU but he admitted that he could make watching the games take a long time.

“I’m a bit of a rugby nerd,” he said. “First, I look at him as an observer, then I look at him as a player, then I look at him as an editor, and then I look at him as a player. a coach.

“So I watch the same game at least four times with different hats. I want to know what each responsibility means.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing San Juan as it began life as a GM at PRFU has to do with getting entry numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

The tournament has been back in the Philippines since March but San Juan admits the COVID-19 has had an impact on the game at all levels, especially at the youth and school levels.

“Because we’re coming back from illness, we really want to rebuild our rugby community,” he said.

“We hope to build more people, and we build more people, we build more coaches, executives, and I think if we have a strong workforce, then we’re going to raise the profile. the better our competition.If we have better coaches, the more you participate, the more players.

“Furthermore, we need to ensure adequate opportunities for everyone. The Philippines is an archipelago, with many islands, so to ensure that resources and opportunities are available everywhere,” he said. That’s my main goal, I think.


San Juan was able to approach his career without relying too much on the help and advice given to him by two important friends and mentors.

PRFU President Ada Milby and Lao Rugby Federation CEO Viengsamai Souksavanh helped San Juan on her journey to become a woman leader.

“It has helped me develop my character now and it has helped me now,” she said.

“Having these people around me and the Grassroots to Global girls, all women are empowered and we are helping each other, building each other and the recognition we have. the right support system. “

San Juan added: “Yes [Milby and Souksavanh] in the ranks, when I saw them there, [I thought] if they can do it, why can’t I?

“It is not a question of a man. If you have the confidence, you have the skills to do it then I don’t think a man should be a problem.

“So I think having them there gave me a lot of confidence that if they can do it, I can do it.”

As she began her life as a leader, San Juan knew she had a responsibility to help other women follow in her footsteps.

One tool that could use that is Grassroots to Global, a ChildFund Rugby program that seeks to work with unions to provide women community leaders with the ability to make a difference.

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“It’s important because it provides a platform for our young women leaders to interact with each other, build a network and build ideas and create action plans, and create projects that are organizations can increase the participation of women in their organizations, ”she said. said.

“When I started playing sports more than 10 years ago, there were no female athletes. I have a female coach, but she is from Australia.

“It was hard to see no one we could really relate to, we were a small group of girls.

“In the end, you see the female coaches, the female coaches, the women in the driving positions, it’s easy for us to see that we have a support system. We know there are people out there who can relate to us. “

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