Horseshoe Point, Saturday 2 December

The Southerners trip to Pattaya started with that old clich? of all touring sides, the panic for numbers. At one stage we were missing an entire front row until rescued by a work colleague of marty’s, Dave who after much technical discussion conceded yes, he could throw a bit, conversation over ‘You’re in!’. . So with this first hurdle vaulted 12 intrepid souls gathered in the carpark at NIST for what had be billed by the tour captain Ultan ‘never exaggerated anything in my life‘ Peters as the stuff that will go down in Southerners legend. Our team was then depleted by a carpark call off from Ben Hainsworth.

Before departing south one of the ‘thinkers’ of the party reminded us that we needed to wait for Neil to come past with the kit. Neil duly arrived to deliver said kit and words of paternal advice that would be solid for any touring Southerners team ‘Don’t lose any kit and for god’s sake don’t give Ultan the map’. Sound advice…

Ultan then introduced the tours beer bitches to their outfits and their duties for the weekend. Joel got a delightful red t-shirt which declared he was an ‘Ultaholic’ a common affliction in certain parts of Canada, Ultan assured us, and Callum got a red tellytubbies outfit. After much discussion it was decided that it wasn’t the one that carried the handbag…

We weren’t on the road long before the first alarm bells began to ring, it was discovered that Joel had bought a ‘book’ with him. Fears were abated when it was discovered that it wasn’t a proper book but actually an encyclopaedia of bodybuilding written by Arnold Schwarzenegger. New fears were then raised when the realities of the books content sunk in (greased up semi naked men). The incident produced the first entry in the fines and we hadn’t left Sukhumvit yet. The rest of the journey south was a fairly quiet affair with the discussions ranging mainly around the state of peoples hangovers and where the hell we were going to find two props between Bangkok and Pattaya?? As we hit traffic and kick off loomed ever closer Richie was determined that the agreed pre-match lie down at the hotel would be adhered to, before heading out to Horseshoe Point.

Richie got his way and we left our hotel slightly refreshed and on to Horseshoe Point. On the journey there Ultan finalised his line up for the match, the pinnacle of his selection process was when he challenged me to a game of stone, paper, scissors to see who was going to play in the front row….(Could England be looking to this Irish/Canadian to manage them to world cup glory???)

On arrival we were slightly perturbed that the Panthers seemed to be warming up, so we hit the ground running, more to do with our lateness due to Richie’s sleeping and Marty’s tour halting toilet stop! Much to our delight not only did the Panthers have extra players but they had extra props!!! (I mean what team has extra props!!) So we graced the field with a full compliment. It would seem that our tour captain’s tactics of arriving late and not bringing enough players would actually set us in good stead. Our first score came early on from a tap penalty taken quickly by Marko to Richie who danced (ploughed) through the broken defence line to score by the posts. This shock score raised morale dramatically and Kirk even converted to give us a solid start to the game. Players settled in, Dave, held true to his word and could throw a bit, and Jean had his catching gloves on in the lineout, which was lucky as he was our only option.

After a strong start the order in which the scores came blurs in my memory, partially due to the pace and guile which they were executed and partially due to me being so far behind that all I saw were the smiles on the way back to the halfway. As a run through, Paul worked hard at stand off pulling in a hat-trick of tries with some good straight lines and some solid kicking out of hand, although he did manage to kick one penalty dead from about the halfway line. We were all deeply impressed with how far he could kick the ball, although next time if got touch, that would be better…. One of our front row converts Morca, of British Club fame, was so delighted to be fulfilling a childhood dream of playing for the southerners (he told me as much) that he surged through a number of tackles to dot down nicely under the posts. I think this one was also converted by Kirk, as the later scores were further out and both kickers, Paul and Kirk weren’t so interested. Something to do with wind conditions or the wrong kind of kicking tee…

As we progressed into the second or third half(??) the score was mounting, so then began talk of more expansive play, chucking the ball around etc…this was met with much nodding in the huddle. After all, some people had travelled all the way from Bangkok to see us play. So to no great surprise the next ball out to the backs ended up on the ground. Shouts of ‘For Fu(ks sake just put it though the hands’ then went ringing along the line. Expansive rugby over. However it was not all bump and grind, there were two good backs tries scored by Marko and Callum, so the ball must have been getting out somehow? Joel also went on some bullocking runs down the middle, which I don’t think his opposite number greatly appreciated. Marty however, did provide us with the best non-catch of the day! The movement of ball from Jean to Ultan then out to him was truly a thing of beauty. To be honest, I think he was just stunned. There was even a captain’s try as Ultan took an unexpected pass from a quick penalty on the 5m line to wrestle the ball down against three defenders.

The final score rounded off at 44 – 0 a result which we were delighted to achieve. Our thanks go to the boys at Pattaya Panthers for a good game and for inviting us down. It must be said they had the most fantastic age range of players I have ever witnessed on a rugby field. From there youngest lad 16, to there president in his sixties who had a bash in the front row. It shows what great club spirit they have and I hope that the talk of a return fixture will be carried through in the New Year.

Aprés rugby, we enjoyed some much needed drinks in the pool. Their President modelled some of the most disturbing Speedos I’ve ever seen (Neil are these official club president wear?), Richie received the Panthers ‘My Big Clock’ award for there selection as MVP. We then retired to our hotel pool for our fines or ‘awards’ session, as rebranded by Ultan. Then out into town to meet our hosts for some much needed tucker. Needless to say we got lost again after Marty and Marko getting directions from a drunk welshman drinking in a bar which seemed to be situated in our hotel car park!!! Thankfully we were rescued and Richie returned the Panthers clock, not before he had left it in the first bar we went to. Special… There was a discussion of some interest that a Russian dance group was in town, but we guessed it had to be ballet, as that was the only Russian dancing any of us had heard of. Too cultured for us………The Panthers were also nice enough to provide us with a guide, who was greatly needed due to our desire to lose ourselves at every opportunity. This was especially nice as said guide had been forced to leave the field of play due to Ultan and Richie having tried to knock him in two, with a well timed double hit. But he didn’t seem to bear a grudge….

Darrel Lintott

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