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A loss for the Vagabonds, but a victory for local charity

A loss for the Vagabonds, but a victory for local charity

RUGBY: The Phuket Vagabonds may have lost the game last Saturday (Mar 19), but they certainly won the day with an excellent showcase of rugby across age groups and genders.

By Anthony Van Sleeuwen

Saturday 26 March 2022, 10:00AM

Despite the ACF Barbarians coming home strong to secure a 20-7 victory off the back of captain Paul Rothwell’s kicking boot, Saturday’s game at the Alan Cook Ground (ACG) was a testament to the efforts of the Phuket Vagabonds in recent years with a Junior Academy exhibition touch game, the first ever Vagabonds Women’s team training, a thrilling encounter between the Vagabonds team and the talented Barbarians and a commendable B45,000 raised for the Asia Center Foundation Scholarship Fund.

The island’s future rugby stars put on an excellent show for the crowd, displaying the skills they have been developing across months of Saturday morning Academy sessions. Parents, coaches and players alike were delighted to see the efforts of the early morning sessions come to fruition in a fast paced and thoroughly entertaining touch contest with a very close final score of 31-26. The strong attendance and support for the curtain raiser event will only encourage the Junior Academy to establish regular competition moving forward.

Women’s rugby has been developing at a rate of knots in recent years with professional competitions being established around the world. With a Women’s World Cup to be held in New Zealand in October this year, that interest is sure to only increase.

Many of the regions social rugby tournaments now also include a women’s division including the annual Bangkok 10s, Pattaya 10s and the Phuket 10s providing excellent opportunities for local teams to get involved. The Phuket Vagabonds have taken up the challenge with local rugby enthusiast Alicia Niemand leading the charge in putting together the first Vagabonds Women’s team.

Their initial training session was held prior to the men’s game on Saturday under the guidance of coach Dave Walker. It was an excellent introduction to the game’s fundamentals and a fantastic foundation to build from. Any ladies interested in joining the team are encouraged to contact the Vagabonds directly for more information.

For the main event, once again the Phuket Vagabonds provided fans with a gripping, physical encounter which has the crowd questioning if these guys really are good mates off the pitch!

The ACF Barbarians however were too good on the day. The return of the always impressive Shaun Kober had the Vagabonds on the back foot early with a strong individual try and numerous midfields runs testing the defense. His on-target cover defense also made it challenging for the Vagabonds speed men to find open space.

It was some smart rugby from the Vagabond Richard Pompilis however, that found the Barbarians napping down the short side of a scrum and set the winger darting for the try line and to level the scores.

The arm wrestle continued over the next few quarters before sharpshooter Paul Rothwell converted a penalty to give the Bah Bah’s some breathing space. Rothwell further extended the score line with a cheeky but brilliant chip and regather putting himself over the line.

A late Vagabonds comeback was let down by some unfortunate handling errors and lack of accuracy at set piece before Rothwell put the game out of reach with another penalty for a final score of 20-7.

The real victors of the day however were the kids of the Asia Center Foundation Scholarship fund with the Vagabonds raising over B45,000 in entry donations and raffles for the day. The Vagabonds and the Asia Center Foundation would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all that came out to support and provide an opportunity for the underprivileged.

A final thank you also goes out to the ACG for another excellent event, which has the ground further establishing itself as a home of mixed sport in Phuket.

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