Barbarians defend Cup title at 2013 Pattaya Rugby Festival

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The waiting was finally over for the 2013 Amari Orchid Pattaya Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament and we hoped that we had planned for every eventuality.  Hot weather was forecast for the weekend of May 4-5 and all the signs were good.

The competing teams gathered at The Tavern by the Sea on Pattaya Beach Road for the registration on Friday night and were royally entertained by the Panthers advance guard and Brendan Daly, the General Manager of the Amari, who has become a very keen supporter of local rugby.

Brendan Daly, General Manager of the Amari Orchid Resort Pattaya (center) presents the Cup to the captain of the Thai Barbarians (2nd left) at the conclusion of the 2013 Amari Orchid Pattaya Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament at Horseshoe Point, Sunday, May 5.Brendan Daly, General Manager of the Amari Orchid Resort Pattaya (center) presents the Cup to the captain of the Thai Barbarians (2nd left) at the conclusion of the 2013 Amari Orchid Pattaya Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament at Horseshoe Point, Sunday, May 5.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and the upgraded facilities at Horseshoe Point were in perfect condition, tents had been erected around the playing area creating an amphitheatre like atmosphere ready for the battles that were to come.  The facilities around the ground were ready to cater to the expected hordes of players and spectators alike and there was even a children’s area complete with bouncy castle to keep the little ones occupied whilst mummy and daddy enjoyed the rugby.

The 2-day tournament provided a feast of top class rugby.The 2-day tournament provided a feast of top class rugby.

The facilities provided by the Amari and Horseshoe Point were further supplemented by The British Pies provided by the famous Pieman from Kao Lak, Steve Mines.  We were also delighted to have obtained the services of Jon Prichard, “The voice of rugby in Thailand”, who we were sure would add to the enjoyment of the weekend with his adroit commentary on the happenings both on and off the field.

16 rugby teams from all over Thailand and other parts of the world had arrived in Pattaya to contest what has become one of the principal 10-a-side tournaments in the region.  There were many familiar faces returning to try and capture some of the silverware and a very welcome appearance from some new clubs – proof that rugby is gaining in popularity in the Kingdom.  It was particularly pleasing to see two completely new teams that were graduates from our youth tournament, Elephant Brutal and the Nawamin Old Boys along with Bargunchong, which is a club developing from Bangkok University graduates.

A smiling skipper from the Bangkok Japanese (2nd left) collects the tournament Plate.A smiling skipper from the Bangkok Japanese (2nd left) collects the tournament Plate.

As usual we had received good support from Hong Kong, as we also welcomed The Hong Kong Scottish who have devolved from another famous touring team from Hong Kong the Nomads, whilst The Valley Barbarians were once again to the fore, led by the indomitable Boris.  An eclectic bunch from various backgrounds united in their love of the game and their quest for the Chris Kays Cup.

Proceedings were to be controlled by Davis Viccars and his band of merry referees, which this year created a first in fielding a lady referee from Cambodia, Ms. Sophoan Peou, who was soon exerting her authority and performed admirably in the heat.

Amari Orchid General Manager, Brendan Daly (center), presents the Bowl to the Mosquitoes.Amari Orchid General Manager, Brendan Daly (center), presents the Bowl to the Mosquitoes.

There were 8 all-Thai teams lining up in the draw with several Thai national players in their ranks and of course many Thai players in the other squads.  The Thai National team had just completed participating in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament and so they were very fit and raring to go.

The Thai Barbarians, last year’s champions, had a very strong squad and were favoured to go all the way again.  Some of the new Thai teams were relatively unknown quantities but all were expected to give their more well-known cousins a run for their money.

As usual there was strong representation from the expatriate teams in Bangkok; The Southerners were favourites from this group as they had found a group of new talent and those wary old campaigners the Bangkok Bangers had also found some young Bangers and they were expected to be in and around at the final showdown under the leadership of “Mr. Almost Happy”.  Perennial crowd favourites the Bangkok Japanese have also found some new blood and they were expected to make a strong showing.

We also welcomed back The Chiang Mai Suas, who have undergone a recent revival and were hoping to go one better than their previous best performance of being losing Cup finalists.  There was also a welcome return from the Thai military with a team from the Armed Forces Preparatory Academy in Nakorn Nayok entering.  The field was rounded out with the hosts Pattaya Panthers, who felt that at full strength they also stood a good chance of getting amongst the trophies.

Nawamin Old Boys were the winners of the Shield.Nawamin Old Boys were the winners of the Shield.

This year saw a changing of the guard as Mark Coombs stepped in as Tournament Director and new arrival to Pattaya, Jeff Powers, was shanghaied into the post of statistician on Friday night in the Tavern.  Then a messiah in the massive shape of Peter “Stitch” Hutton appeared with his custom-designed tournament management software programme and so for the first time in it’s history the Pattaya 10’s was Macoocooed!

The teams were divided into 4 groups and Saturday’s games were played in a round-robin format to determine the ranking for the various knockout tournaments.  In the rather warm conditions hard and fast running rugby was the order of the day for the Thais and rucking and mauling for the larger and more mature foreign players.

Most games went to form as expected and there were strong performances from all of the Thai teams, especially the Thai legends and the Chiang Mai “Suas” who both won all of their group games without anybody scoring against them.

The Thai Barbarians and the Southerners were the other group winners and both lost only one score against.  The host team stunned everybody, including themselves, by playing out of their skins and actually finished second in their group with 2 victories, losing only to the Thai Barbarians and thus qualifying for the Cup competition.  Elephant Brutal Surin, Bangkok Bangers and the Bangkok Japanese made up the quarter final lineup for the Cup competition.

The Thai Mosquitoes and the Hong Kong Scottish led the way into the Plate competition while the participants in the Bowl and Shield would only be decided after later rounds.

Following the departure of the mature rugby players it was the turn of the youth, this year’s tournament was for the under-16’s age group, and was sponsored by the Kingdom Property Group.  It was very gratifying to see the return of many of the boys who had played last year at under-15’s and the improvement in their fitness and technique was a delight to see.

It was also a special moment for the host club as there was a Pattaya youth side appearing after a number of years absence.  The Pattaya Rams, basically formed from students at Regents School, were playing in their first ever tournament and a number of the boys were actually playing the game for the first time.  They played very creditably and easily beat their much more illustrious rivals the Bangkok Lions.

Sunday dawned and after the youngsters had shown their paces and produced some outstanding rugby it was on to the main tournament.  Many teams had obviously taken large quantities of the local soothing balms the previous night and looked much the worse for wear.  Amazingly The Panthers, who had surpassed all expectations in qualifying for the Cup, were there early and with a full complement of fit players!

Tired limbs were anointed and strapped and the knockout phase commenced with few complaints and the quest for Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield got under way.  Many first time losers were surprised to find that they had to play more games than if they had won as the trickle down system took effect.  Again there were some superb performances and some very close encounters with not a few surprises.

The Thai Barbarians led the way into the Cup semi finals, with Chiang Mai Suas, Southerners and the Thai Legends filling the other spots.  In the Plate we saw some fine performances from the Bangkok Japanese, who beat the hosts in a very tight game, whilst newcomers Bargunchong accounted for the Bangkok Bangers and Elephant Brutal Surin surprisingly beat a favoured Mosquitoes team and sent them to the Bowl.

Hong Kong Scottish were making good progress in the Bowl whilst the Taverners and Valley Barbarians were beginning to experience the effects of their exertions and as the Valley Barbarians had booked an early flight they accepted early elimination, which meant that the Shield final would be contested between two of the newcomers to the Pattaya 10’s – Nawamin Old Boys and the Bangpoo RFC.

The Shield Final was an exciting affair as the teams gave their all in pursuit of their first trophy and it was decided in the end by the greater experience of the Nawamin Old Boys as they ran out comfortable winners 14-7.

The competition for the Bowl was by contrast a bagful of surprises.  Bangkok Bangers had beaten the Taverners to reach the semi final and then had an epic battle against the Mosquitoes and despite an exceptional effort the age barrier finally told and the younger and fitter Mosquitoes finally prevailed 22-5 to progress to the final against the Hong Kong Scottish, who had accounted for the young Armed Forces Preparatory Academy 14-7 in their semi final.  In a hotly contested final, the Mosquitoes finally prevailed 21-5 as they seemed to have more left in the tank.

In the Plate it promised to be just as exciting and hard fought as several of the favourites had failed to fulfill their promise to make the Cup and it was hoped that the hosts, who had dropped down from the Cup would be able to reproduce their form of the previous day and finally get among the silverware.  It did look like a home victory could be possible but the Panthers imploded on the final day and ended up empty handed.  The hosts lost a very tight semi final to our old friends the Bangkok Japanese whilst one of the surprise teams of the tournament newcomers Bargunchong accounted for a strong Elephant Brutal team who were attempting to win the Plate after 2 successes in the Bowl.

The final was a bit of an anti-climax as the new look Japanese side took control and eventually ran out fairly comfortable winners 21-5.  The Bangkok Japanese victory was a very popular one as they have been trying so hard for so many years and finally they have got their hands on some silverware.

So the stage was set for the Cup final between the reigning champions Thai Barbarians and The Thai Legends, who were former champions and probably the greatest rivals of the Barbarians.  It was an absolutely cracking final in which no quarter was given.  The Thai boys displayed total commitment, great handling, it was very tight end to end rugby with some great running and handling and some fearsome tackling in defence.

At full time the score was tied with both sides having scored a converted try.  For the first time in the history of the tournament the final went into extra time and the first score would be the winner.  After a further 3 minutes of absolutely nail biting stuff the Baa Baas winger was put away and there was no way that he was going to be caught and denied that “golden score”.  The Thai Barbarians had eventually triumphed and retained their title in style, winning a hotly contested final in extra time 12-7.

After the final whistle everybody crashed into the pool and the presentations were made to all trophy winners by Brendan Daly, the General Manager of the Amari Orchid Resort Pattaya.  Jim Howard, the Chaiman of the Pattaya Panthers, then presented the prestigious Chris Kays Award, for the person contributing most to the tournament on and off the field, to the Valley Barbarians Boris Niethammer, who was too ill (from over indulgence?) to receive his award.  The player of the tournament was Khun Nay from the Mosquitoes.

A vote of thanks is due to all the organizers supporters and sponsors without whom a tournament like this could not happen.  Amari Orchid Resort once again made a great difference and Kingdom Property, the sponsors of the youth tournament, Cranes and Equipment Asia Ltd., AusGroup Corporation, Construction Cost Consultants, Jardine Shipping, Hemaraj Land, Societe Generale de Surviellance, Lord Edward Devereux, Icebreaker, Outrigger Hotels and Phoenix Pacific Inc.

Also a  big vote of thanks to Contract Resources Asia, who provided all the shade and Bangkok Pattaya Hospital for the first aid and medical attention, of course Horseshoe Point for providing a perfect venue and Mr. and Mrs Rock and Roll, who again provided the sounds and music without understanding what those crazy guys were doing on that pitch.

A mention should also be made of the girls and boys from the Regents School Gap Students, who provided the ball persons and scorers for the weekend, they did an amazing job and the referees with Commissar David Viccars back in command kept the games running smoothly with his team of Thai and foreign referees.  Thanks also to Tournament Director Mark Coombs, Statistician Jeff Powers and IT guru Peter “Stitch” Hutton, (please check the website www.macoocoo.com for all the results from the tournament).

Finally we would like to thank all of the supporters and spectators that made the trek out to Horseshoe Point.  We hope that you enjoyed it and that you will come back next year!

 

Barbarians defend Cup title at 2013 Pattaya Rugby Festival

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