As the Southerners ninjas embarked on yet another mission into enemy territory, many questions remained unanswered. Which species to adopt this year? Would horrible chat and receding hairlines will be given a free pass in the local NGO community? Would AirAsia deliberately delay the flight upon seeing Mr. L. Virello on the passenger list?
As with any well organised foray into the unknown, scouts were sent ahead and Mummy, Darrel and Glovebox touched down on the Thursday evening to survey the scene. Mummy was almost lost immediately, after catching the eye of the local male population, but he survived the threat of abduction, thanks to his fearsome companions in the back seat.
After a much-civilised start to the night in the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCC), the scouts were approached on the street by a couple of the Hanoi Dragons players looking to recruit. Reputation goes a long way and word travels fast in Phnom Penh on 10s weekend it seems. A drunken agreement was made to move the first game (Southerners vs Dragons) from 9am to 5pm, but come Saturday morning, it was only Glovebox that remembered, timing his wake-up accordingly. The remaining details of the Thursday night are hazy at best.
Friday was a predictable write-off, with the only notable event being Mummy’s discovery of ‘White Mischief’ vodka, reasonably priced at $4.50 a bottle. However, come the evening, freshened by the arrival of the rest of the squad, the pre-tournament function was the destination, complete with complimentary food and beer, which seemed to get a camera-bearing Lord particularly excited.
Veteran tourists will be staggered to read about the Southerners’ attendance of an official function, but need not fear too much, as the famous ‘ninja-bomb’ was soon thrown. As with the previous night, there is a certain lack of clarity as to what actually happened, but photographic evidence suggests there were a few flaming unicorns around. Rather more worryingly, Beefcake also decided to pose for a few ‘glamour’ shots back in the hotel.
Then came the rugby. Mercifully, there was only one day of it, comprising of 4 pool matches and a final. The traditional hangover-induced slow start to the day is, this sentence aside, omitted from this report due to a lack of evidence. Things picked up as the day went on though, with a draw (an exhilarating 7-7 affair) coming against Stade Khmer. After going a try down, Sod burst onto a pass and powered his way through a number of tackles to keep his feet and touch down as time expired. It was then up to Lord to kick the equalising conversion, which he did comfortably.
So, with a point under the belt, hangovers receding and all players present and correct, spirits were much higher when the final pool match against the Dubai Exiles. Once again, the Southerners were trailing as time expired and once again it was the team’s Thais stalwarts who saved the day, with a break by Lord through the Exiles defence, an offload to Pharng, who then powered through a tackle and over the line to bring the score to 10-10. Lord had another important conversion, this time for the win and despite opposition attempts to distract him, the ball sailed over the bar to give the Southerners their first victory of the day, putting them into the Shield final against the INSEAD Barbarians of Singapore.
If the prospect of bringing home the shield was not enough to fire up the Southerners, the rendition of La Marseillaise (complete with marching) from INSEAD prior to kick off certainly was. Grumpiness and tiredness soon made way for determination, passion and aggression and the hits went in from the kick off as Richie and Gearing both made their mark. From the rock solid front row of Laurent, Darrel and Beefcake to Lord at the back, every Southerner picked up his game and pulled off a memorable 26-0 victory, with Richie, Mummy, Sod and Bang all picking up tries, three of which converted by Lord’s reliable boot.
With the shield in the bag (or rather the hands of beer bitch, Pharng); it was off to the post-tournament function (yes, two official functions in two nights), generously laid on by the Cambodian Federation of Rugby in magnificently glitzy surroundings. After a feed, some beers and the excitement of a $10 casino voucher, it was time for another early exit as the Cambodian Riviera awaited.
The grand establishments of The Riverside and Paddy Rice were again the destinations and at various times of the night, guys staggered back home to sleep it off before a lazy Sunday morning and evening flight back to the familiar surroundings of Bangkok.
Observant readers will notice that there is no mention of a team mascot. Mummy did his best to adopt a lone wolf hanging out near the stadium and Gearing was keen on taking his 2nd row partner home with him, but that was about as close as it came to finding Major Bob II.
The Southerners Sports Club would like to thank the Federation of Cambodian Rugby for an excellently organised tournament, Darrel Lintott for all his hard work organising the tour, all the club’s sponsors for their continuing support, everyone who made personal contributions to fund the air fares and accommodation of the Thai players and last, but not least, the two local Khmer lads who played their hearts out all day to support the bare ten that travelled from Bangkok.
Credit: Glovebox (words) Pharng (pics)