Pattaya Rugby 10’s Tournament goes from strength to strength

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The eleventh edition of the Chris Kays Memorial 10’s Rugby Tournament took place over the weekend of 30th April and 1st May, and 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.

 

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and the upgraded facilities at Horseshoe Point were in perfect condition, with tents having been erected around the playing area to create an amphitheatre ready for the battles that were to come.

Tequila Mocking Birds on the charge against Thai Mosquitoes.Tequila Mocking Birds on the charge against Thai Mosquitoes.

There were many familiar faces returning to try and capture some of the silverware and there was a very welcome appearance from the “Pot Bellied Pigs”, one of Asia’s most colourful and committed touring teams, albeit as a support group for the Phuket Viagrabonds.  We also welcomed another famous touring team from Hong Kong, the Typhoons, travelling under the name of “The Tequila Mocking Birds” together with their quieter cousins from Causeway Bay RFC who were making their first venture to Pattaya.

The main tournament was to be contested by 16 teams with a strong local bias.  The Thai teams continue to improve and they are starting to excel at this brand of rugby as the greater space created by only having 10 players per side benefits the speedy Thai physique.  There were 7 all-Thai teams with several Thai national players in their ranks and of course many Thai players in the other squads.  Unfortunately last year’s champions Thai Legends were engaged elsewhere and were unable to defend their title but Khun Day still managed to enter 4 teams with some innovative names such as “F” Club and Thai Mosquitoes.  The Thai Barbarians, who were former champions, led the local challenge and they had a new feeder team A. T. Truck sponsored by one of the boy’s parents.

Bangkok Bangers take on AT Truck at the line-out.Bangkok Bangers take on AT Truck at the line-out.

As usual there was strong representation from the expatriate teams in Bangkok; The Southerners were as usual favourites from this group but the Old Bangkok Bangers had found some young Bangers and they played as the impressively named Bangers “F” Troop (no relation to the “F” Club).  They had impressed with their fitness and energy under the leadership of Mr. Grumpy and both teams were expecting to make a big impression.

Perennial crowd favourites the Bangkok Japanese had also found some new blood and they were expected to make a strong challenge.  Bangkok University provided the lone academic challenge due to the late withdrawal of Kasetsart University but fortunately the slack was taken up by a group of graduates from Surin, who had actually travelled down to support their old school in the U-18’s tournament.

We also welcomed back the Chiang Mai Suas, who have gone from strength to strength and were hoping to go one better than being losing Cup finalists last year.  The Phuket ‘Viagrabonds’ with considerable help from the aforementioned Pot Bellied Pigs rounded out the field with the hosts Pattaya Panthers, who felt that at full strength they also stood a good chance of getting amongst the trophies.

Pattaya Panthers on the charge.Pattaya Panthers on the charge.

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 Royal Thai Police and The “Suas”, whilst the host team stunned everybody including themselves by playing out of their skins and actually drawing their first group game against Causeway Bay and winning a heart stopper against the Bangers “F” Troop, thus qualifying for the Cup competition.

The Royal Thai Police led the way into the Cup quarter-finals and were established as early favourites with the “Suas”, Southerners, Thai Barbarians, A. T. Truck and Thai Mosquitoes.

Thai Barbarians and the Old Bangkok Bangers led the way into the Plate competition after elimination from the Cup whilst the “F” Club and the hosts were running on the rails.

The preliminary rounds of the of the junior U-18’s tournament were played in the cool of the Saturday evening with the final rounds to be played early on Sunday morning.  The Boys U-18 tournament went ahead with 8 teams all from Thai schools and clubs.  The games were all very hotly contested with teams from Bangkok battling against the boys from the provinces.  The boys set a very high standard for the men to live up to and everybody who witnessed the ability and courage of these boys agreed that the standards are improving very quickly.

Cup winners Thai Police team ready at the put-in.Cup winners Thai Police team ready at the put-in.

The tournament was won by the No. 1 team from Vajiravudh College and for the second year running the runners-up were the Surawittayakrn School from Surin and the Plate was won by the Chalermprakiet School Roi-Et.  Trophies were presented to the winners by Khun Adisak Hemyoo the President of the Asian Rugby Union and Vice-President of the Thailand Rugby Union.

Sunday dawned and tired limbs were anointed and strapped as the quest for Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield got under way.  The night‘s partying had definitely taken its toll and the Tequila Mocking Birds had obviously partaken of large quantities of Don Jose Gold as they missed their Bowl quarter-final completely.  Many first time losers were surprised to find that they then had to play more games than if they had won as the trickle down worked. Again there were some superb performances and some very close encounters with not a few surprises.

The Viagrabonds challenge the Mocking Birds to a different kind of game.The Viagrabonds challenge the Mocking Birds to a different kind of game.

The Royal Thai Police led the way into the semi finals with Chiang Mai Suas, Southerners and “F” Club filling the other spots.  In the Plate we saw some fine performances from the Thai Barbarians who had of course dropped down from the Cup and together with their sister club A. T. Truck, Bangkok University and “F” Club won through to the semi finals whilst Surin, Causeway Bay, Bangkok Japanese and the hosts would contest the Bowl semis.

In the Shield we had two dream matches in the semi-final as The Bangkok Bangers teams would play each other and the Tequila Mocking Birds (if they arrived?) would play the Shield holders the Phuket Viagrabonds.  In the event the first semi final between the Bangers and their “F” Troop was settled over 20 beers.  The Tequila Mocking Birds barely made it and were then summarily sent back to the bar by Phuket, who were set on retaining their Shield.

The Shield was finally decided between The Phuket Viagrabonds and the Old Bangkok Bangers and after a draw at full time a drink off was refused and in a hotly contested extra period the Bangers finally got the golden score to run out winners 19-14.  Then there was a mighty drink off between both squads consisting of beer and tequila, and Phuket Viagrabonds did win that thanks to the contribution of Chris Kays Trophy winner Mark, who downed almost a half bottle of tequila on his own … shame on you Mocking Birds!

Players and spectators take some welcome shelter from the hot sun.Players and spectators take some welcome shelter from the hot sun.

The competition for the Bowl was by contrast a bagful of surprises.  Bangkok Japanese had handsome victories over The Bangers “F” Troop and Causeway Bay to make the final whilst the surprise team was Surin who squeezed past the host Pattaya Panthers to make it into the Bowl Final against the Bangkok Japanese, who were the sentimental favourites.  In a hotly contested final the boys from Surin prevailed 33-17 as they seemed to have more left in the tank and had probably not drunk as much sake as the Japanese boys!

The Plate promised to be just as exciting and hard fought 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 home team imploded on the final day and ended up empty handed.

The refreshment team brings emergency supplies to the officials’ tent.The refreshment team brings emergency supplies to the officials’ tent.

The final was an all-Thai affair between the two sister clubs, Thai Barbarians and A. T. Truck.  Despite their relationship no quarter was given in the match and in a very fast hard fought game the senior side Thai Barbarians were finally crowned Plate winners by a score of 19-7.

So the stage was set for the Cup Final between the resurgent Royal Thai Police Team, who were former champions, and last year’s losing finalists the Chiang Mai Suas.  It was an absolutely cracking final in which no quarter was given.  The “Suas”, with their older and more experienced heads in the team, gave their all but finally the superior fitness of their opponents told as the “Suas” legs tired.  The Royal Thai Police eventually triumphed and regained their title in style, winning a hotly contested final quite comfortably 28- 0.

Collecting for a worthy cause – the Croston House Children’s Home which was badly damaged by fire recently.Collecting for a worthy cause – the Croston House Children’s Home which was badly damaged by fire recently.

After the final whistle everybody crashed into the pool and the presentations were made to all trophy winners by Jim Howard the Chairman of Pattaya Panthers RFC.  He also presented the prestigious Chris Kays Award, for the person contributing most to the tournament on and off the field, to Mark Goodwin from the Pot Bellied Pigs, mainly for his efficiency with the tequila bottle.  The player of the tournament was Khun Joy from the “F” Club.

A vote of thanks is due to all the organizers, supporters and sponsors without whom a tournament like this could not happen: MBMG International, Cranes and Equipment Asia Ltd., Amari Orchid Resort, G4S Security, AusGroup Corporation, Waste Management Siam Thailand, Construction Cost Consultants, Synovate Thailand, Jardine Shipping, NZ Asset Management and Phoenix Pacific Inc.

Bangkok University get to grips with the Thai Barabarians.Bangkok University get to grips with the Thai Barabarians.

Also a heavy vote of thanks goes to Contract Resources Asia, who provided all the shade and Bangkok Pattaya Hospital for the first aid and medical attention.  Of course thanks also goes to Horseshoe Point for providing a perfect venue and our beer sponsors San Miguel Thailand and Asia Pacific Fluids who supplied the imported beers and the very attractive beer servers.

We were also royally entertained by Russell Jay from Mix 88.5 FM radio station and Soundzgood Discotheques, who kept us amused with his style on the mike and the music.

A final mention should also be made of the boys and girls from the Croston House Children’s Home, who provided the ball persons for the weekend, they did an amazing job and The Croston House Foundation is the tournament’s designated charity for this year.

David Viccars, the referees’ supremo was absent this year but Bruce Birchall stepped into the breach and kept the games running smoothly with his team of Thai and foreign referees.  Thank you very much gentlemen we couldn’t have a tournament without you!

Phuket Viagrabonds take on the Bangkok Bangers in the Shield final.Phuket Viagrabonds take on the Bangkok Bangers in the Shield final.

Bangkok Japanese tackle Surin in the Bowl final.Bangkok Japanese tackle Surin in the Bowl final.