Southerners Gold Saturday: By Kirk ‘Kamikaze’ Kahu
The tour started off too early on a beautiful Saturday morning. Mark was early and so was Bob, had they just stayed the night in Nana and not gone home? The tour really started when Marty drove up on a tuk-tuk; the real driver was in the back and Marty was grinding the gears trying to get out of first. Whiteness dawned the drivers face and I have a feeling Marty had given this tuk-tuk driver the ride of his life. The only other highlight from that drowsy morning was the sight of 12 women joining the bus. No they were not Nana women they were a ladies rugby team from Singapore. In typical fashion Jay met us on the way out stating ‘I sleeped in’, with who we don’t know?
After a drowsy two and a half hour ride down to the tournament we learned that our first game would start after beer thirty, 12:30. Why had we left so early? Sleep came to many and a slow, hot, sweat dripping day began as the Gold team waited to play. From the beginning the gauntlet had been laid down; win the tournament or walk away losers. This of course was not said but after a strong second place showing at the Bangkok 10’s and an elite southerners team creatively put together by the powers that be; Wagga, Reed and Neil, we knew what we had come to Pattaya to do.
Our first two games were played well. We defeated the opposition with strong play from both our backs and forwards. After defeating the opposition by an average score of over 30 and felt good except for the loss of one of our star players. Richie had been incredible from the beginning. His huge hits off the initial kick-offs set a tone for the usually slow starting Southerners, we were here to play hard from beginning to end. In the second game Richie had been playing his typical phenomenal rugby when the accident happened. Richie had broken through the line and was on his way to scoring a try when he was tackled from behind. The initial pop was appropriate for the injury that he suffered; a separated ankle, spiral fractured fibula, and torn ligaments. We all watched in silence as one of our greatest gladiators was removed from the pitch by ambulance. The gladiator did not yell or scream but seemed angry that he had not scored and would not return to the pitch that day. All of us were reminded that we were not invincible and lucky to be on the sacred pitch where men hit men and a battle is fought for love of the game.
Needless to say the last game was our toughest. We fought hard and valiantly and defeated a quick, intelligent Thai team who until then had destroyed all their previous opponents. A special note must be made about our only true import player Kibble. As a scrum-half he played extremely well distributing the ball while still keeping the opposition on their toes with the possibility that he might explode through the line on his way to another try. Did he score 4 , 5 or 6 tries in the first day? I lost count.
The evening started well with a huge fining session seeing everyone getting a little liquored. People drank for tries scored, hits made and very stylish rugby shorts. The evening progressed to walking street to an excellent Irish pub called Kilkenny’s. More drinking and general merriment followed with other teams from the tournament joining us. We would have continued on to the other delights of walking street except for the pink invasion. One of the girl’s teams from the Philippines was on their first tour and had decided that it was an intelligent decision to wear pink lingerie out to the bar. Not a man, married or gay, would have left the bar with these beauties prancing around in so little. The night continued on the porch and eventually moved inside were the band played with the pink invasion on stage doing their best pole dancing routines. Who needed walking street when it was all happening in Kilkenny’s. The waitresses were even walking around giving away free shots. I love rugby tour.
Eventually the pink celebration ended at Kilkenny’s and the party moved on to Lucifer’s. My running mates, Sultan and Callum were ready to dance. Sultan kicked his grove and Callum nicked off with a cute little Thai to do a little dancing at the front of the club. At 3 am the night was slowly coming to an end but as my weary mates and I slowly stumbled out of the party we noticed a couple of senior members of the club Jay, Steele and a few women (girl’s team) still shaking their ass. What a team, it’s usually the youth who carry the party into the waning hours of the evening but here we were watching the old guard in full swing with not a thought to the hour or the next day, oh, what a great club I play for.
Southerners Black strolled onto the field on Sunday having put the trials of a day and night in Pattaya behind us, and knowing that our team was going to be facing some serious challenges that day. Now that the group stages were almost finishing it would be time for the knockout games and there was some tough opposition out there. A few knocks and bruises being shrugged off all round, but otherwise the team were in good shape. Sinclair secretly hoped that Momo might throw a line-out straight today and Smithy was just hoping that the front row was going to be able to stand up after Saturday night in Walking Street. Driscoll looked the worse for wear after a night of Russian hookers and chundering, but was more than up to the task in his last game.
The day started with a first game against the mighty Shrewsbury school SHARKs. A fairly big and mobile team, but who we hadn’t seen much of the previous day and were looking like contenders in their funky shirts. A few big lads in the opposition and the Bomosaurus called for another day of Ruck and Roll.
Southerners Black received and took the game straight to the SHARKs. Some serious scrummaging from the Black pack and the SHARKs were being worn down. Perhaps Marty had spiked their Gatorade. Either way, Blacks were holding them off. Also, Steele now without his trademark granny panties was catlike in the centre and punishing in the tackle. A comfortable victory for Blacks (who stopped counting after the first try) and the day was starting to shape up well.
Then there was a break. There were some Golds games, but thankfully no breakages, and then the Golds went off for rub downs and poolside cuddles while the Blacks were left wondering when we were supposed to be playing next.
Finally the word came through that it would be Kasetsart 2. They proved to be formidable opponents, with some fairly serious running capability and in true Thai style mixed up in the backs. So much so that the Horseman ended up chasing down their winger, narrowly missing catching the bugger for K2’s first try. K2 put up a spirited game, pulling ahead through a combination of fitness and years of climate and altitude preparation. Although sadly they couldn’t see their way to shake hands after the game and simply walked off the field. Poor show chaps.
After losing to K2, things were about to get a lot tougher for the Blacks as we moved into the Bowl competition and timing started to play a part in the games. The next challenge was once again against the Bangkok Japanese, who had been played on Saturday, and this time we were sure they would be up for blood, and not the least bit interested in Hari-Kiri.
The Bangkok Japanese, or BJ as they shall be affectionately known are a strong side. Sinclair after another game with the Chang Mai Tiggers was a bit bruised but still had enough gob left to repeat Saturday’s pep talk – they run straight and we just have to smash ’em. Nice one Cam, inspirational stuff. Following with his own brand of motivational speaking, Andy ‘Bomo the War Elephant’ Thompson said something about a truck roll, or was it Ruck and Roll? Whatever the story, Blacks were responding well to the encouragement and took to the field with renewed frenzy this time.
The game started well, but true enough, the BJ were holding straight, hard and true. A lot of time was spent in midfield turnovers, and some shocking rucking from both sides. Redmond stepped up to take on the 2nd row battle and put up a mean fight in the middle before catching an injury. This game had a lot more tempo about it, and the BJ danger men of Kitah, Teru and Tomo were being shut down by the Black forward pack, with Callum heroically cleaning up any stragglers at the back. Momo still couldn’t throw straight though.
Then it happened.
Wearing a bright red pair of Cinderella rugby shoes (not to be confused with the ones he wears down Cowboy), the War Elephant suddenly appeared ball in hand, charging down the left flank leaving BJ’s advances in his wake. Dr Ek paced in support the whole way, but Bomo had other things on his mind, and was moving so fast that Ultan could only take a picture of his boots. Never before had such a turn of pace been seen since Driscoll was caught without his bus ticket. Bomo charged the line and scored a fitting first try after 8 years playing at Southerners. Nice one.
All in a hard fought victory by the Blacks with some good spirited handshakng between both teams afterwards.
No sooner had Blacks sat down to take a well earned rest than we were told we would be on next. Something about some other team wanting to go home early? Suitable expletives were exchanged by all involved and over 40 litres of water consumed in that 20minute break. Redmond and Smithy had a brainwave and roped in Kitah, Tomo and Teru. Unfortunately they looked worse than most of the Blacks and had just sculled their first beer. But, with a focus and determination that would have made Momo throw a line-out, they jumped into their shirts and took the field against the Vientiane Buffaloes for the Bowl final.
The final was a hard fought affair, with Blacks on the back foot most of the game against a mobile and aggressive VB side. Scrums were not working out too well, and even using the combined might of the mighty Justin and Smithy, things were proving to be a challenge. It was not going to be a day to roll over and squeak though, as Momo threw a straight line-out and Callum ran in a great try, ducking and weaving between men who had consumed Callum’s bodyweight in breakfast that day. Marty was so pleased he leapt, punching the air in delight, in a true Fame/YMCA moment. The last gasp challenge was led by Southerners Blacks’ very own crazy buffalo – JP – who with ball in hand made a 35yard drive up the middle of the pitch from a tap penalty, finally being stopped half a yard from the line by 4 of the VB pack, then sneaked in the try under their shoelaces to give Blacks a well earned consolation try.
Overall a tough final that the deserving Buffaloes won, and Blacks walked away, heads held high having fittingly completed their first tournament as a team.