This was the 19th edition of the annual competition, played from May 26-28, and saw teams from across the globe descend on the island to battle for the title. It was only the second time in the history of the event that the Vagabonds have taken the Open title, the first being back in 2015.
Notwithstanding the steady downpour over the weekend, there was some brilliant rugby played, with magnificent skill demonstrated on the field across all three divisions – Open, Vets and Ladies – in conditions that demanded laser focus and solid teamwork.
In a hard fought semi-final, the Vagabonds managed to secure a victory by means of the rule where if a game finishes as a draw the first team to score in that match are declared winners.
At the end of their semi-final, against a strong showing by the Emirates Flying Muppets, the game finished at 7-7, luckily however, the Vagabonds had scored their try first, so advanced to the final against popular visiting side, the Asian Japanese Dragons.
The Asian Japanese Dragons reached the final after defeating the Moorabbin Rams 17-10 in their semi-final play-off.
But victory in the final was no easy feat, with the scoreboard at the half-way mark standing blank at 0-0. Not to be discouraged, the Vagabonds upped the ante in the second half and eventually managed to get 12 points on the board to secure their win.
Speaking to The Phuket News following the win, one of the event’s key organisers, and the man who brought rugby to the island, Pat Cotter, said, “Despite torrential rains during the weekend there was some brilliant rugby played with sublime skills across all three divisions Open, Vets and Ladies, in conditions that would have tested most players.
“However, despite the weather, it was another classic Rugby 10s tournament played under extreme conditions and credit goes to all the teams and supporters, especially the lady champions – the Buck Ladies.
“Congratulations also go to the Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers Vets Tournament Champions – The AC Ballsmackers. And of course, even bigger congratulations go to the Phuket International Rugby 10s Open Champions for 2017 – the Phuket Vagabonds,” said Cotter.
“We hope to see all the teams and spectators back next year for the 20th anniversary of the 10s,” said Cotter, who just one day after the comp was on the long drive back, with family in tow, to his home in the northern province of Chiang Mai.
In the ladies final, the Bucks Ladies lifted the trophy after defeating the Bangers Belles 7-5.
But in the Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers Vets Competition, the AC Ballsmackers held the trophy aloft after securing a comfortable 34-7 win over the Gulf Legends.
As the AC Ballsmackers hail from New Zealand, they of course celebrated their victory, and gave the spectators some additional entertainment, with a forceful and hearty Haka on the running track surrounding the playing field.
Having now covered the 10s for three successive years, this writer has to say that the event is now drawing even bigger names from the world of rugby. Perhaps most notably the Wallabies’ legends Adrian “Moose” Skeggs and Andrew Walker – who were both on the island representing the Lord Howe Woodhens.
Despite it being their first year together, and at their first ever 10s, the Woodhens were crowned Plate winners.
In addition, it has to be said that each and every year the action both on and off the pitch gets more exciting and next year’s 20th anniversary is sure to be biggest and best yet.
Once a Vagabond, always a Vagabond.