Tour Report by Sultan ‘of Swing’ Ariffin

The Southerners touring team to phuket 10’s 2007 was single handedly put to gather by Mark “Skinny” Anderson, I would say, preparations were drafted out weeks before and they were well executed too, so before I carry on with this report I would like to thank skinny for taking the responsibility upon himself and leading the southerners to Phuket. THANKS SKINNY.

The boys gathered at phuket airport on Friday night itself, arrival time varied from early morning(Skinny) to 10pm at night(Kirk and me) and the boys whom arrived earlier graciously waited for the late boys to turn up, thanks again gentlemen. We were informed that the ride to our guesthouse would be about an hour long five minutes into the ride and Bob immediately shouted out with military precision “Jean, tell the driver to stop at the next 7-11, we can’t do an hour long drive without Beer!” and the message was relayed and the van stopped for us to recharge, Kirk called out an order of chips and Andy decided to teach him the proper way of calling chips as crisps! As, in jolly old England chips would be bought at a chips shop and these variety of potatoes are known as crisps, he did not say much after realizing that the packet say potato chips as well, the rest of the ride had a variety of conversations ranging from American history, Diamond pricing, Platinum jewelry, Andy enquiring about a lady whom turns out to be Callum’s Mum and the French men slept throughout the ride.

We arrived at the Little Buddha Guest House, nice place though but I did hear moans of disapproval from the boys when we realized that we had to climb a few flights of stairs just to get the rooms, but the southerners took it all in and went on to dump the luggage in their respective rooms. We regrouped at the lobby for the night out and we already had a few casualties whom succumbed to weariness and slept, the remaining lot headed out to Soi Bangla’s Aussie Bar where the other teams are supposed to be gathering. The night went on with more booze and partying, the team was very much ready for the next day’s tournament, in true southerners’ fashion.

During the course of the night, Bob and Andy was discussing about having a new style of play where the backs play in forwards position and vice-versa, it sounded fun and the fellows around were having a thought about the outcome of the game and smiling to themselves, I would say it was the beer talking.

Day 1
Our first game of the day was against Royal Selangor Club, a.k.a The Dogs from Malaysia. As a Singaporean there was some personal rivalry involved in the game for myself, it’s something like the Aussie – Kiwi, English-French rivalry. The southerners paced in to the receiving end donning our traditional black jerseys and the dogs were in white, the whistle blew and the ball was kicked to us, jean caught the ball and the ruck was formed, I don’t remember much of the game as a man I can only do 1 thing at a time and that was to play rugby then, so there were a lot of hard tackling and crashing, when we were advancing, the ball was offloaded to Kirk and as to what he says, “if I see a try I will take it” he scored a try, his try was not converted and right after that, a white chick was suddenly seen in the field wearing the dogs jersey, I was really confused and no I was not under the influence of alcohol, so do I tackle her or touch her and move back 5 meters, anyway bob did give her a hard tackle during a ruck which send her flying back a few meters. Dave came on for someone and on his first touch of the ball he scores a try and it was converted, so when the final whistle of blown, we had won the dogs 12-5, they did score a try at some point of the game. So the tour was looking good for us as the first game was victorious and our next game is in about 3 hour’s time.

Next up we were against the Thai Barbarians. We were kicking to them and Jean was seen telling every one of us to hit hard as he could not hit them hard as the babas manager is his ex-girlfriend’s father!! We knew we had a lot of hard tackling to do and also to keep our defensive line in a very tight line as the Thai Baba’s are known to be very good at breaking loose defensive and scoring, and they did the same form of play during our game as well, we did our best to hold our lines and also to do some attacking, the entire game was very intense Kirk scored again and it was converted, final whistle blown, Thai Babas 10- Southerners 7.

We went back to our camp defeated and our next game had a few more hours and we were to be up against Wanderers RFC from Singapore, and again being a Singaporean I had a personal rivalry against them too as I have played against them in Singapore and lets just say we don’t see eye to eye, the boys did a variety of different activities while waiting for the next game, most slept, ate, went to the beach for a dip Dr.Ek was seen trying to take pictures of woman sunbathing topless! So on and so forth.

The southerners’ final game of day 1 of the tour was up next and then it’s off to the bars for a cleansing ritual which involves beer, I don’t know which of one the two activities we were looking forward to.

The game against the wanderers did not go well as we had expected as there was a word that a lot of foul play from their side was left unnoticed by the referee, I got elbowed right on my face intentionally and I was knocked out for a while and the ref did not even care to see if things were alright, a few of the boys were also given the same treatment. Nevertheless, We played our game and tried to keep our defensive line but the Wanderers just happened to be at one of our weak spot and they took the chance to score a try against us and they converted it too, we tried hard to make a come back but we could not and the game ended with the Southerners 0 and the Wanderers 7, emotions were running wild from the French side of our camp and the ref was searched high and low by jean as he wanted to ask the ref if the ref has sworn his allegiance to the wanderers and there was a lot of mistakes being pointed out and frustrations being hurled across the team by a few players, all I could think to my self is, lets just stop talking about a game which is already over, all of us tried our best, there are bottles of beer out there with the southerners name written on it, lets do what all southerners do best and that is to raid the local bars and make sure they run out of drinks by the time we are gone. Things subdued by as we changed into our singlet.

Team Captain Skinny suggested we catch the Australia vs. Wales game as it was still going on, we all boarded the phuket hybrid versions of taxi/tuk tuk and we ended up in our guest house, we washed up and a few of us ended at a bar called blue lotus, where the fines session was held and that will be described in detail. (As much as I could remember)

Bob – leaving the polo t shirts in Bangkok
Kirk – for wearing formal shoes whilst wearing his singlet and shorts at the stadium, scoring 2 tries.
Dave – for scoring a try on his first touch of the ball, first try scored for southerners
Jean – for talking too much when he was not the captain, for his Brazilian leather sandals
Joe and Damon – drinking with the right hand, new addition to the southerners’ clan, playing first game for us etc.
Dr. Ek and Sultan – for the most expensive tour laundry bill in southerners’ history.
Sultan – turning up at phuket airport late and looking like a Singaporean gangster.
The French – for being French
Most of those who were present – not being able to speak Thai

There was a lot more fines but I could not remember any. And bob came up with a new style of fining someone where there was the defendant and the prosecutor, think he took that off from JAG, that style did not work well for many as the accused still ended up drinking. The night went one the true southerners fashion of drinking and hopping from bar to bar, a few notable events were seen and noted during the course of the night,

• The dramatic last minute try of the Australia vs. Wales game.
• Q and Ek trying to take pictures with white farang girls
• Joe getting a bar girl drunk by getting her to drink countless numbers of tequila shots.
• Kirk showing off his calves.
• Callum being hit on by “cute” Thai chick.
• Ek trying to look at one of the girls’ boobs by manually removing her top.
• Ek again trying to slip his camera under a girls skirt so he could get an up skirt picture of her, cheeky doc yeah, I wonder how the nurses react to that
• Jenga!! , four in a row, jackpot
• Sod walking around with a pack of condoms in his pocket.
• Saigon geckos’ stickers on the bar top dancers’ bare ass cheeks.
• Spiderman and friends.
• Spartan wannabes
• “Convicts” dressed in black and white stripes being marched down soi bangla by the Spartans.
• A man wearing a Vietnamese dress winning the tour virgin pageant.
• The Frenchmen going off to bed early and not partaking in any of this ridicule.
• The “Spartans” capturing the southerners’ dancing spot in a club and by then my roommate was too pissed to walk straight so I had to take him back.
• My room mate and I politely refusing an offer from a cute Thai girl who went ” hey guys you want I drink with you in your room”

And finally a lot more happenings was seen but as I am bound by the all time tour oath of what happens on a tour stays on the tour, I would say the boys were all well behaved.

Day 2
Most of us were in bad shape and extremely late by the time we reached the stadium on day 2, as we entered the stadium the announcer went, “would the captains of the Dubai hurricanes and the southerners please come to the officials’ tent”! that was our coin toss!, we were playing in less then 10 minutes, we got into our gear gingerly as a lot of us would have appreciated a bit more rest time. We huddled around for the captain’s pep talk and we were told that the Dubai team were as pissed as we were also, having that thing in mind we set of after a final squeeze and we were on the receiving end, just before the kickoff, jean came up to my face, slapped me and said, “hit them hard!” all I could do was just nod, the slap did wake me up though!. So they kicked the ball to us, one of us caught it was tackled down very quickly by the hurricanes, and before we knew it they have won the ball and went on to score a try, the Dubai hurricanes proved to be a much stronger team then our side for the day as numerous tries were scored by them and we could not break their line at all, I stopped counting after 3 tries, final verdict, Dubai hurricanes 28- southerners 0.

We were knocked out of the plate rounds and the Dubai hurricanes went on to win the plate. The post game debriefing was also very sentimental and emotional as issues like the team being a family and the appreciation for the American boys who played for us was shown, Jean was seen close to tears as he was overwhelmed by the fact that though the world may hate the French, the Southerners learned to accept them and make them a part of us.

Most of us had booked the evening flights and we had all the time in the world to laze around in the beaches and watch rugby and the beer, Andy steel was seen playing for the bangers in the coffin dodgers finals and he even scored a try for them, the rest of us were wondering has he sold his soul to the older men’s team, and was his sole purpose of coming to phuket was to score a try for the bangers? Well just kidding mate. And the rest also made it a point that we should fine him for that, at the next available fine session. We lazed around till the cup finals and set out to the airport for our flight back home.

I would personally say that I truly enjoyed myself out there in phuket both on and off the field. Though we did not return with any hardware, we went as a team played as a team and left as a team. Am already looking forward to the next tour!