It was an early start. By 6am almost everyone was in the car park near Nana Plaza. Ultan rolled in slightly tipsy and immediately set up his kit bag to make his sleep on the concrete more comfortable. A few unlucky hookers, unable to score a trick that evening tried half-heartedly to salvage their nights work by giving their best sex eyes to the sleepy Southeners. We were cursing our draw. Playing the first game of the tournament was the honor given us as defending champions. We would have preferred a sleep-in.

By the time we were ready to leave we were face with a hold up. Ultan, being Ultan, had got chatting to a drunkard who he charmed to such a point that he was willing to give him his Buddha ambulate. Ultan was faced with a moral dilemma. Should he return the Buddha and risk causing himself bad luck? Or should he keep it and have the poor guy sober up and realize he had given his precious relic to an Irishman with his 2 front teeth missing? After unsuccessfully trying to return the said item we were finally on our way.

The first game for Southerners Gold was against the old enemy, the British Club, who were obligingly late. This gave us the chance to extend our intense pre-game preparation which involved standing around passing the ball. But this preparation proved adequate as we proceeded to beat BC 17-14.

Southerners Black played next and had a close win against the Misc. Buccaneers 12-10. Gold then had a thrilling 0-0 draw against Bangkok University, Black followed that by getting a hiding from the Thai Barbarians, 35-0, before reversing the result and beating ABAC 36-0. In the last match of the day for us, Southerners Gold beat Sarakham University 19-14.

The definite highlight of day one was the appearance of “The Mask”. Southerners Black were unexplainably given the benefit of a superhuman masked athlete who appeared suddenly in the back line, scored a 20 meter try (complete with prancing and a somersault) before disappearing as fast as he arrived (some eye witnesses said he looked tired). This masked man was not seen again over the weekend�The mystery remains unsolved.

What followed back at the hotel pool fine session was a textbook example of courtroom discipline being upheld in the face of extremely distracted and misbehaving Southerners. Wagga marshaled his Beer Bitches superbly, made examples of rule-breakers and in general made sure everyone consumed their fair share of dolphin juice. Fines of note include:
• Steel- If we win the next game will we go through?
• Calum- Constant spilling of dolphin juice into the pool through poor drinking technique

Missing from the fine session was Sparky who was selfishly locked in his room experiencing the exciting symptoms of delayed concussion. Luckily he was spotted and taken to the hospital by Florence Kahu who displayed true Southerners team spirit in this selfless act.

Court session complete we then broke out for a bit of classic frommeling with a testosterone rush in full flow an arm wrestling comp soon kicked off with Jean-Martial(large French carthorse) taking on Jac(12 year old boy). Much to everyone’s surprise, especially JMC, Jac dominated off both arms!! Queue much back slapping for Jac and some serious soul searching from JMC!!

Then with bonding accomplished we headed to the only bar in town known to be serving alcohol, Jameson’s. Here the carvery got dealt to by 25 starving Southerners and the billard-playing wheat got separated from the chaff over several intense rounds of killer. Wheat of note included: Wagga, Jay and Skinny. Chaff of note included Jac, Sod and Bob.

By 11pm the Southerners reeked of desperation. Jameson’s was great but the boys wanted a taste of Walking Street. As often happens in these situations, hopeful rumors began circulating of bars opening in town. Gradually our numbers began thinning as the boys, bit by bit, headed out chasing lost causes and false leads. The Pattaya District Council won in the end and most Southerner were tucked up in bed by 1 pm, only dreaming of the bright lights they had come to see.

Sunday morning was an historic occasions in that it was (probably) the first time the Southerners would be playing themselves in a 10’s competition. That’s right, Southerners Gold were playing Southerners Black. We decided to mark this occasion and to celebrate Momo’s last ever game by selecting our teams and positions randomly. So Darrel was first five eights, Skinny and Wagga were props and Momo was being lifted in the lineout. It was a fantastic game played in great spirit.

Highlights included Perkins running down Calum to save a certain try, Momo being 6 feet up for the first time in his life, Ultan putting in a massive fend on Steel and Wazza being steamrolled by an unstoppable Ting, on his way to the tryline. Gold were winners 14-10.

So Southerners Gold were then required to repeat history and beat the Bangers at Pattaya, this time in the semi-final. It was the game of the weekend with the Young Bangers having a mountain of possession and throwing themselves at the Southerners line. Southerners defended with desperation and passion. Big hits were put in, Bob and Ultan leading the way until eventually the pressure was too much and the Bangers scored. The game eventually rested at 5-all with time almost gone. The young Bangers had the chance to break Southerners hearts with a penalty attempt at the death. Luckily the penalty attempt almost hit Kitah in the back of the head and the match went into extra time. The golden point rule applied and in the event of a draw the Bangers would go through due to their higher number of total tries.

The Bangers had been keeping the game especially tight up to that point, the ball rarely reaching the backs. What transpired next was a change in game plan. The Bangers spread it wide for the first time, the ball sailing several feet, from the base of the ruck to the left-winger who proceeded to drop it cold, allowing Wagga to scoop up the ball and sprint 50 meters for a try. The Southerners had secured their second final in two years.

But the casualty list had grown steadily over the weekend. Sparky was still in the head bin, Church’s fantastic tournament was cut short in the Bangers game, courtesy of a Bangers stiff arm (14 stitches) and Sod managed to get shot by a sniper. Sod even had the sense of occasion to allow himself to be stretchered off the field, despite his injury being caused by him tripping over his feet while waiting for the kick-off. In the last act of the same game Skinny managed to get himself kicked in the chin, resulting in the most ridiculous-looking bandage job in history and him being called Ab Lincon for a while. Big Gook rolled his ankle and was unavailable for the final. Jean and Ultan had to catch a flight and were also unlikely to be available.

The final was a tough encounter. The Thai Barbarians are a tough, fit and well-drilled team and they were pumped up for the match. Southerners played hard and gave it everything but it just wasn’t our day. We went down 14-7.

It was a great weekend. We brought along several new players, all of whom played great and fitted into the team well. Wagga was voted by his team-mates as player/ personality of the tournament and won a Southerners MP3 player, generously donated by Laurent. Ultan and Jean both played in the final and made their flights on time. All injuries were relatively minor and we played a tournament worthy of defending champions. Ting scored 3 tries over the 2 days!

Thanks must go to Darrel, Andy, Wazza and Bob for their various roles in making the weekend a success. Thanks too to the tournament organizers, our sponsors and all players involved. The Pattaya 10’s again proved to be the tournament of the year.

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