Chris Kays Memorial Rugby Tournament 2011
(Photos to follow soon)

The forecast for the weekend was that stormy weather was imminent and as the Pattaya 6’s cricket had been washed out the previous week there was a lot of concern that a wet tournament would be order of the day!!! The teams that gathered at “ The Tavern by the Sea “ in the Amari Orchid Resort for the registration were royally entertained by the Panthers advance guard and David Cumming, the General Manager of the Amari, who is a very keen supporter of local rugby. The staff in the Tavern coped well with volumes of alcohol that they had never witnessed before and when Phuket Viagrabonds ably supported by the Pot Bellied Pigs proceeded to attempt to keep pace with the Old Bangkok Bangers advance guard there promised to be a melt down but in spite of the shout of 40 pints please the waitress responded but there is only 20 of you … YES??? Saturday dawned bright and sunny and the upgraded facilities at Horseshoe Point were in perfect condition, in anticipation of possible precipitation tents had been erected around the playing area creating an amphitheatre ready for the battles that were to come!!!! The facilities around the ground were ready to cater to the expected hordes and the playing surface looked like a billiard table. Everything was ready for the eleventh edition of the Chris Kays Memorial 10’s Rugby Tournament, the organizers had oiled all the necessary wheels to ensure a vast choice in beers would be available and there was a virtual army of delightful promotion ladies available to help satisfy even the mightiest of thirsts. Probably the best beer in the world was available on draught as was Tetleys English Bitter and main beer sponsors San Miguel had their famous “ San Mig Light “ for the backs that were looking after their waistlines!!!

The tournament took place over the weekend of 30th April and 1st May, and 16 rugby teams from all over Thailand and other parts of the world had arrived in Pattaya to contest what has become one of the principal 10 a side tournaments in the region. There were many familiar faces returning to try and capture some of the silverware and there was a very welcome appearance from the “ Pot Bellied Pigs “, one of Asia’s most colourful and committed touring teams, albeit as a support group for the Phuket Viagrabonds. We also welcomed another famous touring team from Hong Kong the Typhoons travelling under the name of “ The Tequila Mocking Birds “ together with their quieter cousins from Causeway Bay RFC who were making their first venture to Pattaya and I understand that the quiet ones did actually create quite a bit of noise away from the prying eyes at Horseshoe Point.

The main tournament was to be contested by 16 teams with a strong local bias. The Thai teams continue to improve and they are starting to excel at this brand of rugby as the greater space created by only having 10 players per side benefits the speedy Thai players. There were 7 all Thai teams with several Thai national players in their ranks and of course many Thai players in the other squads. Unfortunately last year’s champions Thai Legends were engaged elsewhere and were unable to defend their title but Khun Day still managed to enter 4 teams with some innovative names such as “ F “ Club and Thai Mosquitoes. The Thai Barbarians, who were former champions, led the local challenge and they had a new feeder team A. T. Truck sponsored by one of the boy’s parents. As usual 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 played as the impressively named Bangers “ F “ Troop ( no relation the the “ F “ Club ) they had impressed with their fitness and energy under the Leadership of Mr. Grumpy and both teams were expecting to make a big impression. Perennial crowd favourites the Bangkok Japanese have also found some new blood and they were expected to make a stronger showing as the tournament was being played over a holiday weekend …. the Japanese do take holidays so they had more of their players available. Bangkok University provided the lone academic challenge due the late withdrawal of Kasetsart University but fortunately the slack was taken up by a group of graduates from Surin, who had actually travelled down to support their old school in the U 18’s tournament. We also welcomed back The Chiang Mai Suas, who have gone from strength to strength and were hoping to go one better than being losing Cup Finalists this year. The Phuket Viagrabonds with considerable help from the aforementioned Pot Bellied Pigs rounded out the field with the hosts Pattaya Panthers, who felt that at full strength they also stood a good chance of getting amongst the trophies.

The location was in perfect condition, the weather was hot and steamy with the threat of stormy weather however the quality of the rugby was of the highest level throughout. As usual Tournament Director Malcolm “ The Root of all Evil “ Clare with his dour assistant Wayne “ Blowfly “ Oganoski had spent weeks organizing the groups and programming the many spreadsheets to cover every possible variation. After some initial confusion following the eleventh hour withdrawal of Kasetsart University, however a replacement team was discovered and after some minor shuffling of the playing order everything was ready for the starters whistle!!! Play commenced right on schedule and under the control of Bruce Birchall ( standing in for Referee’s Supremo David Viccars ) and his merrie band of referees we were off. We managed to run to schedule the whole weekend, which is a minor miracle in a tournament like this. I guess that they did a good job as I actually received a compliment on the quality of the officiating and none of them were drowned in the pool on Sunday night!!!

The teams were divided into 4 groups and Saturday’s games were played in a round robin format to determine the ranking for the various knockout tournaments. In the rather warm conditions hard and fast running rugby was the order of the day for the Thais and rucking and mauling for the larger and more mature foreign players. Most games went to form as expected and there were strong performances from all of the Thai teams especially the Royal Thai Police and The “ Suas “, whilst the host team stunned everybody including themselves by playing out of their skins and actually drawing their first group game against Causeway Bay and winning a heart stopper against the Bangers “ F “ Troop thus qualifying for the cup competition. The Royal Thai Police led the way into the cup quarter finals and were established as early favourites with the “ Suas “, Southerners, Thai Barbarians, A. T. Truck, Thai Mosquitoes and the Old Bangkok Bangers threatening to gatecrash the cup party. Thai Barbarians and the Old Bangkok Bangers led the way into the plate competition after elimination from the Cup whilst the “ F “ Club and the hosts were running on the rails bringing up the rear was Surin, who had quietly settled into a good rhythm. The Bowl participants would not be decided until the Cup and Plate quarter finals were completed.

After a hard days play, cooling off in the pool was obligatory and a strong start was made on some of the mighty hangovers to be seen the following morning. The preliminary rounds of the of the Junior Under 18’s Tournament were played in the cool of the Saturday evening with the final rounds to be played early on Sunday morning to allow the old fellas to sleep in. The Boys Under 18 tournament went ahead with 8 teams all from local schools and clubs. The games were all very hotly contested with teams from Bangkok battling against the boys from the Provinces. The boys set a very high standard for the men to live up to and everybody who witnessed the ability and courage of these boys agreed that the standards are improving very quickly. It is obvious that with the introduction of an improved diet the Thai boys are bulking up and are now more than a match for their foreign counterparts. The tournament was won by the No. 1 team from Vajiravudh College and for the second year running the runners up were the Surawittayakrn School from Surin and the Plate was won by the Chalermprakiet School Roi-Et. Trophies were presented to the winners by Khun Adisak Hemyoo the Prresident of the Asian Rugby Union and Vice-President of the Thailand Rugby Union.

Sunday dawned and the weather was overcast and heavy rain was threatening however it was cool and the light morning drizzle actually provided perfect conditions for rugby. After the youngsters had shown their paces and produced some outstanding rugby it was on to the main tournament. Due to the Chairman’s carefully crafted draw the teams that had qualified for the Cup and Plate competitions were required to play early as the losers from first round knock out games then dropped down into the next competition. Many teams had obviously taken large quantities of the local soothing balms and looked much the worse for wear. Amazingly The Panthers who had surpassed all expectations in qualifying for the cup were there early and with a full complement of fit players!! Tired limbs were anointed and strapped and the knockout phase commenced with few complaints and the quest for Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield got under way. The night‘s partying had definitely taken it’s toll and the men ground their way through a very heavy schedule that finally weeded the weak from the strong. The Tequila Mocking Birds however had obviously partaken of large quantities of Don Jose Gold and missed their Bowl quarter final completely. Many first time losers were surprised to find that they then had to play more games than if they had won as the trickle down worked. Again there were some superb performances and some very close encounters with not a few surprises.

Eventually the plot unrolled and with the conditions remaining perfect we all witnessed some fine rugby. The Royal Thai Police led the way into the Semi Finals with Chiang Mai Suas, Southerners and “ F “ Club filling the other spots, which meant that could take a well earned rest while the battles for the minor trophies continued. In the Plate we saw some fine performances from the Thai Barbarians who had of course dropped down from the Cup and together with their sister club A. T. Truck, Bangkok University and “ F “ Club won through to the semi finals whilst Surin, Causeway Bay, Bangkok Japanese and the hosts would contest the Bowl semis. In the Shield we had two dream matches in the semi final as The Bangkok Bangers teams would play each other and the Tequila Mocking Birds ( if they arrived? ) would play the Shield holders the Phuket Viagrabonds. In the event the first semi final between the Bangers and their “ F “ Troop was settled over 20 beers. The Tequila Mocking Birds barely made it and were then summarily sent back to the bar by the Phuket, who were set on retaining their Shield.

The Shield was finally decided between The Phuket Viagrabonds and the Old Bangkok Bangers and after a draw at full time a drink off was refused and in a hotly contested extra period the Bangers finally got the golden score to run out winners 19 : 14. Then there was a mighty drink off between both squads consisting of Beer and Tequila and Phuket Viagrabonds did win that thanks to the contribution of Chris Kays Trophy winner Mark who downed almost a half bottle of tequila on his own ….. shame on you Mocking Birds!!!

The competition for the bowl was by contrast a bagful of surprises Bangkok Japanese had handsome victories over The Bangers “ F “ Troop and Causeway Bay to make the final whilst the surprise team was Surin who received a bye in the quarter final due to the Mocking Birds not waking up and then squeezed past the host Pattaya Panthers to make it into the Bowl Final against the Bangkok Japanese, who were the sentimental favourites. In a hotly contested final the boys from Surin prevailed 33 :17 as they seemed to have more left in the tank and had probably not drunk as much sake as the Japanese boys!!!

In the Plate it promised to be just as exciting and hard fought as several of the favourites had failed to fulfill their promise to make the cup and it was hoped that the Hosts, who had dropped down from the Cup would be able to reproduce their form of the previous day and finally get among the silverware. It did look like a home victory could be possible but the home team imploded on the final day and ended up empty handed The quarter finals saw both the Old Bangkok Bangers and the Panthers beaten and the Plate then became an all Thai affair with The Thai Barbarians, Bangkok University, A. T. Truck and the “ F ” club in the semis. The two sister clubs prevailed so we had a Thai Barbarians and A. T. Truck final. Despite their relationship no quarter was given in the final and in a very fast hard fought game the senior side Thai Barbarians were finally crowned Plate winners 19 : 7.

So the stage was set and the Cup Final was to be between the resurgent Royal Thai Police Team, who were former champions and last years losing finalists “ The Chiang Mai Suas “, who had demonstrated just why they now should be considered in the top tier of Thai Rugby. It was an absolutely cracking final in which no quarter was given. There was a suggestion from the crowd that some of the “ Policemen “ should have been fined for speeding. The Thai boys displayed total commitment, great handling and superior fitness but the “ Suas “ with their older and more experienced heads in the team gave their all but finally the superior fitness told as the “ Suas “ legs tired. The Royal Thai Police eventually triumphed and regained their title in style winning a hotly contested final quite comfortably 28 : 0.

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, he also presented the prestigious Chris Kays Award, for the person contributing most to the tournament on and off the field, to Mark Goodwin from the Pot Bellied Pigs mainly for his efficiency with the tequila bottle. The player of the tournament was Khun Joy from the “ F “ Club.

A vote of thanks is due to all the organizers supporters and sponsors without whom a tournament like this could not happen MBMG International, Cranes and Equipment Asia Ltd., Amari Orchid Resort, G4S Security, AusGroup Corporation, Waste Management Siam Thailand, Construction Cost Consultants, Synovate Thailand, Jardine Shipping, NZ Asset Management and Phoenix Pacific Inc. Also a heavy vote of thanks to Contract Resources Asia, who provided all the shade and Bangkok Pattaya Hospital for the first aid and medical attention, of course Horseshoe Point for providing a perfect venue and our beer sponsors San Miguel Thailand and Asia Pacific Fluids who supplied the imported beers and the very attractive beer servers, who definitely brightened up the whole weekend just ask Russell Jay from Mix 88.5 FM radio station and Soundzgood Discotheques, who kept us amused with his style on the mike and the music. A final mention should also be made of the boys and girls from the Croston House Children’s Home, who provided the ball persons for the weekend, they did an amazing job and The Croston House Foundation is our designated Charity for this year. David Viccars the referees supremo was absent this year but Bruce Birchall stepped into the breech and kept the games running smoothly with his team of Thai and Foreign referees. Thank you very much gentlemen we couldn’t have a tournament without you.

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