Southerners Women’s Rugby has been going from strength to strength recently and we hoped to continue this by hosting the inaugural Southerners Women’s Rugby Tens Invitational Tournament. The teams gathered at Kasetsart University early on Saturday, 26 August to set up and get ready. With a few very recent recruits we were nervous, but excited and ready to go!

Our first game up was against Srinakharinwirot University (SWU), a rematch of the Southerners Women’s team’s first ever match, which proved to be a tough one as they were well-drilled and had a range of set plays. Caitlin kicked off the match and the tournament. The Southerners had been working on ball possession and rucking in recent training sessions but the SWU team were a force to be reckoned with and it was clear we were going to need something special to break through their defence. Their experience, fast hands and solid tackles meant that we lost more balls in rucks than we were happy with and they utilized every chance they had to get the ball over our line, eventually we managed to retain possession and Buffalette recruit Claire broke through to score our first try of the tournament. The game ended 27 – 5 to SWU.

Next up was our local derby match and this was the game we were most looking forward to playing. Last time we played agianst the Belles was the first time ever that they failed to score against us and we were looking to maintain and improve on that result. Despite a quick start from the Belles that saw them go two tries up, our heads didn’t go down and with an injury to our scrum half, Val, that saw her being carried from the pitch by her knight in shining armour, the Southerners were fired up. A motivating pep talk from our coaches (and all the boys who had come to support us) made sure the girls were ready for fight to the finish in the second half.

The Belles helped us out and gave away a few second half penalties which we used to our advantage. Some powerful play from our new look front row allowed one of our guest players to ease the ball past the Belles defence to reduce their lead to only one try. Another quick play by Southerners saw the ball out on the wing and a try scored under the posts to level the score. The conversion went over and the Southerners took the lead against our fiercest rivals for the first time in the match! We could see the delight on the faces of the coaching team and all the supporters – this spurred us on for the last two minutes of play. We won the ball at the line out and played to the whistle, the ball was kicked from play and that was it – WE BEAT THE BELLES! Final score 12-10 to the Southerners.

Our final match of the day was against the international touring team – the Buffalettes from Vientiane, Laos. This was to be the friendliest match of the day but also the most important; register a win and we would finish above the Belles, register a loss and they would place above us in our own tournament. We just couldn’t let that happen and the girls showed so much grit, determination and teamwork to get a result.

We were still feeling the loss of Val but Brianne and Caitlin produced some hard hitting tackles and new recruit Kayla showed how to clear out a ruck efficiently to ensure we secured possession. Quick hands and good play making by our guests from Chulalongkorn University, who slotted into our team seamlessly, saw the ball over the try line. The support from the sidelines for both teams was massive but the desire to finish above the Belles showed in the game play of the Southerners with the final match of the day finishing with a Southerners win!

It was a fantastic day which will go down in history for the Southerners Women’s Rugby for a two reasons – hosting our first ever tournament and the finally getting that sweet first win over our local rivals the Banger Belles. Everyone played with passion and perseverance but most importantly the whole Southerners family turned up to support us. Special mentions go to Brianne for securing the coveted Bitch of the Pitch award and to Nerissa and Kayla for making their debuts for Southerners. A big thank you to go to all the referees and touch judges for volunteering, we really appreciate it – we received many compliments from the teams about how fair and professional you all were. A huge thanks also must go to all the people who helped organize the tournament (in particular Dana Piggott and Soddy) for all of their help and support as well as our lovely timekeepers Caroline & Rachel – it couldn’t have been such a successful day without you all.

Finally, thanks to all the Southerner’s supporters who gave up their Saturday to come and cheer us on – you are incredible.