Raimon Land Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament 2008

The weekend of 3rd and 4th May saw 16 rugby teams from all over Thailand and other parts of the world descend on Pattaya for the ninth running of the Chris Kays Memorial 10’s Rugby Tournament. The setting was again at The Horseshoe Point Resort, which was in perfect condition. Raimon Land were once again the principal sponsors of the Tournament and everything kicked off in great style at the Northpoint Development with one of Raimon Land’s now world renowned parties, held in conjunction with the sailors here for the Top of The Gulf Regatta. Despite the fact that due to local elections there was a forecast of a “ dry “ weekend the tone was set for the whole weekend and there wasn’t a dry throat in the place!! Our hosts at Horseshoe Point had done a great job and the organizers had oiled all the necessary wheels so the tournaments progressed smoothly from start to finish.

For the first time ever a junior section was introduced and an Under 18 tournament was very hotly contested with teams from Bangkok and the Provinces battling the local boys from Regents School ( a detailed report on this tournament appears elsewhere in this paper ). This years main tournament was to be contested by 16 teams with a very strong local and academic bias as there were no less than five university teams in the field some tournament newcomers and many old friends. The Thai Barbarians, who were the champions in 2006 returned after a one year hiatus and 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 had impressed with their fitness and energy. The British Club, perennial crowd favourites the Bangkok Japanese and the Phuket Vagabonds rounded out the domestic challenge. We also welcomed back the boys from Bognor RFC in the guise of “ Werthers Originals “ led by the mighty Steve Worthington, who celebrated his 40th birthday during the tournament. Another new / old side were the Red Dot Rebels from Singapore they certainly won all the awards for their original and highly coloured hairstyles and were fine performers on the field. We also had a pick up side formed mainly by ex Australian Navy personnel combined with Panthers “ The Buccaneers “.

The quality of the rugby was of the highest level throughout and there were some very special displays during the weekend. All likely protagonists assembled at Horseshoe Point at 09:30 am on the Saturday morning and the organizers tent was besieged by team captains anxious to know when would be their turn to take to the lush turf of Horseshoe Point. Unflappable as ever tournament organizer Graham Macdonald with his dour assistant Wayne “ Blowfly “ Oganoski soon had everything sorted out play commenced under the control of David Viccars and his merry band of referees including Peter Tann and Dave Smith from Hong Kong, Bruce Birchall from U. K., Frikkie Van Wyk from South Africa and of course our contingent of referees from the Thailand Rugby Union Khun Bancha and Khun Chaiyan. I guess that they did a good job as none of them were drowned in the pool on Sunday night.

The sixteen teams were divided into 4 groups and Saturday’s games were played in a round robin format to determine the ranking for the various tournaments. Conditions were perfect and hard and fast running rugby was the order of the day. There were strong performances from the Southerners Gold, the British Club and the Thai Barbarians with Werthers Originals and the Red Dot Rebels threatening to gatecrash the cup party. There were also strong performances from the Bangkok Japanese and the Young Bangers to qualify for the cup quarter finals.

Bangkok University, Cholburi University and the Buccaneers were all favoured for the Plate, with the hosts the Pattaya Panthers, Sarakham University and the Phuket Vagabonds expected to vie for the Bowl.

After a hard days play, cooling off in the pool was obligatory and due to the election restrictions we dispensed with the traditional Quaic and a huge party was put on by the “ Fat Landlord “ of Jamesons. For a dry night there were some mighty hangovers to be seen the following morning. The early rounds of the Junior Tournament were played early on Sunday morning to allow the old fellas to sleep in but some of the hardier souls were there to support the youngsters. With a slightly later start the order of play was in some doubt ?? However Captain Quirke had everything under control and the knockout phase commenced with few complaints. Partying had definitely taken it’s toll in general but on the home side in particular and several other teams were also short on resources. Tired limbs were anointed and strapped and the quest for Cup, Plate and Bowl got under way. Many first time losers were surprised to find that they then had to play more games than if they had won as a trickle down was enforced. Again there were some superb performances and some very close encounters with not a few surprises.

After the youngsters had shown their paces it was on to the main tournament and the men ground their way through a very heavy schedule that finally weeded the weak from the strong. The Cup quarter finals saw some very good and hard games and eventually Thai Barbarians, Young Bangers, The British Club and Southerners Gold progressed to the semi finals, which arguably produced the finest rugby of all with Southerners Gold overcoming the Young Bangers in a very hard and tense match that went right down to the wire. The British Club fought gallantly against the resurgent Thai Barbarians, who were coming on to their game at just the right time British Club finally capitulated and this meant a repeat of the 2006 final between those old foes Southerners Gold and the Thai Barbarians. It was an absolutely cracking final in which youth and superior fitness eventually triumphed over age and experience. The Thai Barbarians recaptured the title in style narrowly winning a hotly contested final 14 : 7.

In the Plate it was obvious that both of the foreign sides Werthers Originals and the Red Dot Rebels would set the pace however Kasetsart University and the Buccaneers had other ideas and there were some very closely fought encounters. The overseas visitors did prevail and we saw a cracking final which in an exact reversal of the Cup Final saw age and experience win out over youthful exuberance, fitness and outrageous hair styles!! Werthers Originals giving Steve a wonderful birthday present by winning the plate. Bognor will be back to try and go one better next year and we are sure that Red Dot will return to add flair to the tournament.

The competition for the bowl was by contrast much easier than last year’s marathon, which probably helped the home team led by that wiley old campaigner Eoin Quirke to manage his meager resources and squeeze by ABAC/ Burapha in a tight semi final and battle to the Bowl Final. In a pulsating final against Sarakham University the experience and bulk of the hosts saw them home to win a very tight game with a late converted try. The Panthers had finally won a trophy.

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 and Henri Young the Marketing Director of Raimon Land. Ray and Lin Kays ( Chris’ parents ) were also on hand to assist and Ray presented the prestigious Chris Kays Award, for the person contributing most to the tournament on and off the field, to the Panthers own Paul Crouch, who on the Sunday played a phenomenal 9 games for 5 different teams!!! The best Player of the Tournament was presented to Mr. “ Peng “ from the Thai Barbarians. Finally everybody took of to the Ocean Marina where Raimon Land hosted the closing party of the sailing / rugby weekend.

A vote of thanks is due to all the organizers supporters and sponsors without whom a tournament like this could not happen Raimon Land, MBMG International, AGS Four Winds, Hamptons International, Jamesons Irish Pub, G4Ssecuricor, Mackenzie Smith Law, Cranes & Equipment Asia Ltd., Contract Resources Asia, WMS Thailand, The Comcon Group and of course Horseshoe Point for supplying the venue and the Pattaya Mail for printing the tournament programme.


For the first time this year a youth section was introduced into the Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament and an Under 18 Championship was included. Five teams from around Thailand took part. The Regent's School, Pattaya, played in the Pattaya Panthers’ colours; the other teams competing were: the Bangkok Lions, Chalermprakiat School (Roi Et), Pathumpittayakom School (Ubon Ratchatani) and Suravittakarn School (Surin), The participation of the Thai schools was coordinated by Khun Sutham, who works tirelessly to introduce the game of rugby to all areas of the Kingdom. The devotion of the Thai boys was demonstrated by the fact that those from Chalermprakiat traveled down from Roi Et overnight and arrived just before the tournament kicked off and in many cases the boys all contributed towards the expenses.

The tournament was played as a round-robin, with each team playing the other four teams, followed by a final between the two best teams. The early games demonstrated the strength of the teams from Isan, particularly Suravittakarn, who looked powerful in the forwards and quick in the backs.

Local team The Regent's played very well, considering this was only their second competitive Rugby Union outing: despite losing all four of their games, they were rarely outclassed and competed well with some stronger and much more experienced sides. Their forwards were strong and well organised around the breakdown and competed well in the set pieces. Bryan Virgino De Leon impressed with some immensely powerful running and strong tackling throughout, while both Sonam Tshewang and Steven Hansen proved difficult to stop with the ball in hand. Jamie Sturley worked tirelessly at hooker, and both Chris Wermelin and David Gibbon played with commitment and energy throughout.

Sean Salt was a commanding figure at scrum half, providing reliable ball to the backs and making a few good runs himself. Josh Hambling, drafted in from Garden School, played well at fly half, often beating his opposite number in attack and making some good tackles; he scored a well-worked try against Pathumpittayakom. The centre pairing of Michael Tenisch and Bandith Boonyeun provided a strong midfield, with some effective breaks and good defence. On the wing, Raymond Fongdavirat provided pace and proved difficult to stop. Support was provided by a committed James Sarginson and Tilmans of ISE.

After the group stages, the two best teams were Chalermprakiat and Suravittakarn. The final was a very hard-fought affair and the much heavier Suravittakarn boys were in command for most of the game. Suravittakarn were leading 5-0 and looked like taking the trophy, however, Chalermprakiat managed to score a try in the dying seconds of the game and were successful with the resulting conversion and thus emerged as the winners the final score being Chalermprakiat 7 to Suravittakarn 5.

Thanks should go to Corin James of the Regents School who organized the tournament and to Khun Sutham of the Thai Rugby Union for coordinating the participation of the Thai Schools. It is hoped that in future years the youth division of the Pattaya 10s will be expanded with other age groups getting involved and more teams.

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