Panthers win the basket at Laos rugby 10s

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Pattaya Panthers RFC participated and won a medal of sorts in the recent Laos 10’s rugby tournament, held from 20-21 February.  The sticky rice basket trophy does not have the same ring as Bowl winners but in this region, a sticky rice basket is just as important.  If there were an off-field award, Panthers would have been declared winners on the first day but, officially, only the on-field action matters.

The Panthers travelled with a typical expat group; old hands, newcomers, Thais, novices, available bodies (buddies?) with various combinations.

The Pattaya team started and ended the tournament on a winning note.  Regency were the Panthers first opponents and proved fluid and almost on equal footing as Pattaya.  However, it was the Panthers who stumbled to a 5-0 win.

Vientiane Wild Hogs proved to be a much tougher challenge in the next game.  Fighting spirit helped keep the match tight but the Hogs were surprisingly off to an early lead.  The Panthers soft paws meant the Hogs were eventually able to root out a 12-10 victory.

With the setting sun, the nimble Royal Thai Navy sailed away with a 21-0 victory in the final game of Day 1, leaving the terrestrial Panthers grounded.

After some serious discussions and a consultant chair being brought in, the Panthers reviewed their game plans.  Extra cross-fit sessions at Fairtex did come in handy but ball handling, third-phase support, and kicking were not part of the fitness regime.

Day 2 proved to be a short one for the Pattaya squad.  The Bangkok Southerners sounded an early wake-up call to the nocturnal Panthers who slumbered to a 28-5 defeat in the first match.  Not wanting to leave without a trophy of some sorts, the Panthers refocused their efforts and managed to bring down a big prey in the form of Vientiane Buffaloes with a 17-10 victory.

A sticky rice basket is an important component of the region’s culture.  Pattaya Panthers have shared in this culture in more ways than one.  Winning this title, rather than a Bowl, showed that the Panthers are integrated into the local scene and completed a Thai team’s dominance of the tournament.  Panthers’ participation in these games can only auger well for their own 10’s competition the first weekend in May.