The Aussie Bar Phuket International Rugby 10s was oh so excited to be back. After two years in the wilderness, rugby is now back up and running in most countries in the world and one thing that the past has taught us, it’s how much we have missed our freedoms and, in particular, our sports. With 21 teams from around the region flying into Phuket for the tournament, it brought some much-needed relief for a lot of business owners, as well as providing some spectacular sporting action on the pitch.
The excellent Thanyapura Sports Club was again the venue for the weekends event. With the traditional Athena Siam Vets tournament kicking things off on Friday (May 13), it was a chance to see rugby of a bygone era, being played out, in a spirit of camaraderie and fun.
Even though their bodies might complain about the rigours of getting out of bed, never mind running around on a rugby pitch, they still talk a good game, especially when those tonsils are liberally lubricated.
The One Foot In The Grave O45s featured old favourites and long-time supporters of the tournament The Asian Japanese Dragons, Arabian Gulf Legends and the Moorabbin Rams from Australia. Once the group games were done and dusted, a depleted Rams side were out of it, and the final between the AJD’s and the Legends saw the latter play some of their best rugby in many a year, to take down the faster AJD’s and win the O45s Cup 15-0
The O35s Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers tournament had five teams all chomping at the bit, to get involved: the Old Bangkok Bangers, Old Boys Rugby from Abu Dhabi, Phuket Viagrabonds, Singapore SCC Growlers and Singapore XVG Rusties. Vintage rugby was on display from all quarters with, the Old Bangkok Bangers finishing top by virtue of points difference over the SCC Growlers, each having won three and drawn one. XVG Rusties finished third, Viagrabonds fourth with the Old Boys propping up the ladder and dropping out of the tournament.
Saturday (May 14) saw the group stages of both the more serious men’s and women’s tournaments.
Group A was dominated by the Singapore SCC finishing top with an unblemished record. Another Singapore club, the Bucks Raptors, were a close second, followed by the Bangkok Southerners, Phuket Vagabonds and the youthful TSU Thaksin Uni side who played some outstanding rugby over the weekend.
Group B was again dominated by Singapore clubs, as the XVG Roosters, who won all their games, with the Bangkok Bangers Colts a close second. The surprise team of the tournament was the Chiang Mai Cobras who finished a credible third to make the cup quarter finals. Singapore Bucks Bin Juice and the Phnom Penh Rahus rounded out the bottom two.
In the women’s event a late cancelation by the Bucks women saw the pool shrink down to three teams. It didn’t however diminish the quality of rugby with big hits, slick handling and all-round enthusiasm for the game. The more experienced Bangkok Bangers Belles took early control of the group and never relinquished it, as they began to dominate the Bangers ReBelles and the KL Tigers ladies’ side.
Knockouts and Finals
Sunday is always the big day with all the knockouts and finals on offer, and it draws a large crowd. Many old friendships and acquaintances were rekindled and new friendships begun.
The Cup eliminator round saw the Phnom Penh Rahus beat Bucks Bin juice 14-0 and the home favourites Phuket Vagabonds beat TSU Taksin Uni 24-0 to progress to the Cup quarter finals and condemn Bin Juice and TSU to the Shield final.
The Cup quarter finals were an exciting prospect with a number of teams in the mix to take the title. One of the favourites, SCC Rugby, beat the Rahus 24-7, and Chiang Mai Cobras went down 21-7 to the Bucks Raptors. The Bangers and Southerners continued their historical rivalry with the Bangers coming out on top 19-0. The surprise of the round was the 22-0 victory by the Vagabonds over a much fancied XVG Roosters team. All the losers dropped into the Bowl semi -finals with the winners moving towards Cup honours.
The first of the semi-finals was in the Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers class of O35s with the Bangers edging past the Phuket Viagrabonds 17-10 and the SCC Growlers defeating the Rusties 19-7. A mouth-watering Cup final with the Old Bangkok Bangers taking on the Growlers and, the Viagrabonds against the XVG Rusties, in the Plate Final.
The first Bowl semi-final saw the Chiang Mai Cobras play some of their best rugby of the weekend to overcome the Phnom Penh Rahus 24-0 with the Southerners beating the Roosters 19-7.
Both Cup semi-finals as expected were close affairs with SCC Rugby taking the honours in the Singapore derby against Bucks Raptors 12-0 and the all Thai match between the Bangers and Vagabonds ending with the same score line in the Bangers favour.
The two losers would play off for the Plate with an eagerly anticipated cup final between the Bangkok Bangers Colts and the SCC Rugby to come.
As happens every year, the Asia Center Foundation scholarship students, for whom the tournament has raised funds for many years, did an outstanding performance based on Thai culture and history to the delight of the massed crowd.
The finals kicked off with the Open Shield final between Bucks Bin Juice and the TSU Taksin Uni lads who played their hearts out but were heartbroken when the Bucks scored a late try to give them a 19-10 win.
The Coffin Dodgers Plate final saw the Viagrabonds dominate a tiring XVG Rusties, who played some outstanding rugby over the weekend and had the crowd on their feet, on numerous occasions, 22-0.
The Cup final was a lot closer with both the Bangers and Growlers fighting for control. The Bangers had some early dominance but SCC’s never say die attitude saw them come roaring back in the second half. Some outstanding rugby by both teams made for an entertaining final with the Bangers edging out the Growlers at the end 17-12.
In the Ladies final the Bangers Belles who were dominant the whole weekend took on the KL Tigers who, though depleted through injury, came to fight. A close first half saw the Belles with a slight advantage 10-7. The second half saw the Belles pull away to open up a 20-7 gap and although the Tigers went in at the end, it wasn’t to be their day, with the Belles winning the Ladies Cup 20-12. Ladies Cup Winners, Bangkok Bangers Belles.
The Men’s Open Bowl Final between the Cobras and Southerners was a classic tale of two halves. The Cobras came out of the blocks quickest and opened up a 10-point lead which should have been more except for some woeful kicking in front of the posts. The Southerners, recent Pattaya 10s champions, weren’t going anywhere and got right back into the game keeping the Cobras on the backfoot. Only heroic defence from the Cobras kept the Southerners out but, with minutes to go, the Southerners finally broke them down to score to bring it to 10-7. Although the Southerners pounded the line they couldn’t get the score and an infringement at the breakdown saw the Cobras win their first major trophy.
The Phuket Vagabonds won the Plate final by virtue of a walkover when the Bucks Raptors, ravaged with injuries forfeited the game.
The Aussie Bar Phuket International Cup Final was everything a supporter could have asked for with end to end attacks, massive hits, sneaky plays and offloads. The Bangers took an early 7-0 lead before the SCC lads came back and scored to make it 5-5. With the clock ticking down it was all to play for and both teams were relentless in attack and defence. With extra time looming and the ref looking at his watch, the SCC made the breakthrough, scoring under the posts to give the Singapore SCC Rugby the win 12-5 and be crowned 2022 Champions.
One Foot In The Grave O45’s Champions: Dubai Leg Ends
Men’s Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers O35’s Champions: Old Bangkok Bangers
Men’s Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers O35’s Plate Winners: Phuket Viagrabonds
Men’s Open Shield Winners: Singapore Bucks Bin Juice
Ladies Open Champions: Bangers Belles
Men’s Open Bowl Winners: Chiang Mai Cobras
Men’s Open Plate Winners: Phuket Vagabonds
Men’s Open Champions: Singapore SCC Rugby
Men’s Over 45’s Player of the Tournament: Tomonari Furukawa (Bangkok Asian Dragons)
Men’s Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers Player of the Tournament: Darryn Mathee (Old Bangkok Bangers)
Men’s Open Player of the Tournament: Robb Falls (Bangkok Bangers Colts)
Ladies Player of the Tournament: Jane Cathery (Bangkok Bangers Belles)
Jean Luc Joel was referee’s coordinator, and his team of officials kept order on the pitch and created mayhem, off it! Big thanks to X-Treme Sports who sponsored the Referee’s kit.
The Phuket 10’s continued their long association with the Asia Center Foundation who celebrated their 20th anniversary this year. Funds were raised over the weekend for the ACF scholarship program providing underprivileged children on the island the chance of a better future. You can find out more by contacting Roelien Muller at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website at https://asiacenterfoundation.org/
For more information on the rugby tournament check www.phuket10s.com
It was great to see long-time supporters of the Phuket Rugby 10’s out again in force, with the Aussie Bar Phuket & Athena Siam continuing to support rugby on the island and the Phuket News, as ever, giving first class coverage before, during and after the event. The Sheraton Four Points Patong Beach Resort and World Flair were newcomers to the event and we welcomed their support.
All the weekends action was live streamed by Jed Thian and his interception management production crew.
Medical Support was provided by the Bangkok Hospital Siriroj who did a wonderful job.
The North Point Sheraton were a fantastic hotel partner as well as organising the food trucks that kept everyone well fed with the delicious fare.
Thank you for your support and see you all next year. The 24th Phuket International Rugby Tens will take place on June 9-11, 2023.