This mini-invitational-10s tournament will pit two teams from each club against one another in a round-robin format, with a cup and plate final to decide placings. Additionally, the tournament will be the first invitational to be hosted by the Vagabonds at the ACG since establishing the sports ground as their home venue back in 2019.
Rivalry between the two clubs has been especially fierce in the veterans competition sections, with some classic encounters when playing for the Weasel Cup, which have gone down in Thai rugby folklore. The Cup will be up for grabs as the winner’s prize, with the Bangkok Bangers being the current holders.
“Sport has produced some great rivalries over the years and the Old Bangkok Bangers against the Phuket Vagabonds is no exception,” commented Pat Cotter, who has been an influential benefactor to all levels of Thailand rugby and is very much looking forward to the upcoming event.
“There have been some classic battles over those 20 years, mostly at tournaments, such as, the Bangkok International 10’s, the Chris Keys Pattaya 10’s and our very own Phuket International 10’s. In the early years the Bangers were dominant but as the Vagabonds became more established, they came into their own, winning some memorable matches and creating a legacy which continues today.
“It’s great to see this rivalry continue, as the Bangers do a first tour to Phuket in many years outside of the tournaments, and for sure, yet another chapter will be written into our shared history. Suffice to say that the history of these two clubs will continue to be written long after we have gone and may this go down as one of those classics,” concluded Cotter.
Brush off the cobwebs
Bangkok Bangers’ chairman Darren Mathee, a former captain of the Vagabonds, is keen to brush off the cobwebs following two years of inconsistent rugby around the Kingdom and in the capital.
“Touring and playing in Phuket is always fun for our group and also playing against my first team I ever played for and captained in Thailand. Our players have been enthusiastically training just for this tour and of course the fun that comes with it. We are bringing 14 players that have never toured and some that have never played with the Bangers, so this would be a great start for our upcoming season of rugby,” said Mathee.
Restrictions resulting from the pandemic have, of course, affected sports, but the Bangers opted to use this downtime as a rebuilding phase, and captain Travis Clements reflected on their progress leading into this November meeting.
“It’s given us the opportunity to go back to the basics and focus on those finer details we’ve been lacking in the past. I can speak for the team when I say that we’re coming in with everything we have as we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished on the training pitch. We just can’t wait to delve back into the rugby culture that we love and adore so much, and the picturesque setting of Phuket makes it so much sweeter,” enthused Clements.
Following the success of the Vagabonds Reds v Blues internal Seven’s competition held in June of this year, expectation for another enthusiastically supported rugby event is high, with chairman Anthony Van Sleeuwen being one of the main driving forces behind Phuket’s rugby resurgence commenting on the forthcoming competition.
“We are thrilled as a club to bring live rugby back to Phuket for the third time this year,” explained Van Sleeuwen.
“Considering the many challenges COVID has thrown at us over the past two years it is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that has been shown by the team, sponsors, and supporters. The Phuket Vagabonds continue to go from strength to strength, and now the Bangkok Bangers present us with another opportunity to gauge our progress,” he added.
Invitational set for Dec
While the Bangers event is of immediate focus, the Vagabonds are also preparing to bring even more rugby to the island’s shores as soon as next month, with the Phuket Vagabonds Invitational 10s set for Dec 4, an all-new event which aims to bring the best of Thailand’s social clubs to the ACG for a fast paced one-day tournament.
“We are truly grateful for all of the outstanding community support shown thus far, and we look forward to continuing to build a rugby club that Phuket can be proud of,” added Van Sleeuwen.
Vagabonds’ captain Paul Rothwell has been overseeing his squad’s development through the difficulties of the past year and is relishing the opportunity to put his charges through their paces against quality opposition.
“All the lads are eager and waiting to get back onto the pitch,” said Rothwell. “We’ve all been pushing ourselves in both training and preparation, and I hope that it can be a competitive game with a high standard of rugby.
“I’ve never played against the Bangers, only heard from team-mates that they have quality in their line-up, so I think it will be a hard-fought match. I look forward to the match and the occasion as a whole. Let’s hope we can get a good crowd in to support the lads,” a determined Rothwell added.
This festival of rugby football will begin with a Vagabonds Youth Rugby Academy coaching session at 9am and then the main event kicking off at 1:30pm. Matches will comprise four 10-minute halves, while spectators can enjoy the action at ground level or from the ACG’s upper gallery, where a selection of food and beverages will be available throughout the day.
For more information on the tournament and Vagabonds Rugby Club, please visit their Facebook page.