Phuket Rugby 10’s… Better Memories Than ‘Rugby Special’?
By the time you read this, your ‘Phuket International Rugby 10’s’ will be over. OK I know you received the magazine on the first day of the tour, but after a quick check to see what bollocks your captain wrote in the team profile and a cursory flip through of the other pages you will have realised that this pamphlet cannot be passed, kicked, drunk or fucked and therefore is of no use to anyone in this tournament. I assume you will then have thrown this in your bag along with your fractionally more useful boots where it will have stayed until your return home. If you saved these pages from meeting their fate in the washing machine I take it you are now sat reading this while nursing a lingering hang-over, an empty wallet, what we’ll kindly call ‘Scrum Pox’ and some excellent, if blurred, memories.
The good news is the hangover will go, you’ll replenish the wallet and I’m sure that really is ‘Scrum Pox’. Unfortunately for those of you who just toured Thailand for the first time you could now be burdened for the rest of your life with an unbeatable rugby memory. And that isn’t just the biased opinion of a resident local piss-head, it would appear to be the belief of ex-England international turned TV pundit Damian Hopley. In his recent article titled “Rugby in need of increased exposure”, published on 21st April 2012 in the Electronic Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) Mr. Hopley wrote:
“If you were to ask rugby supporters what they missed most about the game, after that legendary tour to Bangkok and Phuket, it would undoubtedly be Rugby Special”.
For those of you who have never lived in Britain I should explain that ‘Rugby Special’ was an excellent TV programme shown on a Sunday evening that used to cover senior rugby from that weekend. Mr. Hopley’s article questioned the lack of media coverage rugby gets in the UK and asked why Rugby Special has never been adequately replaced. Obviously the complement given to Bangkok and Phuket was very backhanded, but we in the Phuket Vagabonds are proud to accept it anyway. Of course, it isn’t true.
If you really asked rugby supporters what they missed most about the game it wouldn’t be a one off tour to Thailand, but touring itself and I mean anywhere and for any reason. Touring is one thing we as amateurs have over the professionals. Naturally professionals do tour, but it’s their job and aside from the money (which would be nice) they have to win to enjoy themselves, now if that were true of the Vagabonds we would be extremely fucked! Amateurs can go on tour with the guarantee of having fun, the same could not be said if we had to suffer curfews, drink restrictions and most cruel of all…training sessions. The British and Irish Lions trip to Australia will be the biggest rugby event of the year; however I’m sure Jon Prichard, legendary amateur with the Bangkok British Club drank more piss on the one hour fight to Phuket than the combined Lions pack will on the whole of their six week tour (when you consider that Thai Air domestic flights are dry and I’m not using the word ‘piss’ as an euphemism, that’s probably not a bad thing).
The golden rule of a rugby tour is: “What goes on tour stays on tour” so I can’t write too much of times past. However I will mention one incident because it is such a superb example of true amateurism. The team involved were the ‘Pot Bellied Pigs’, the tournament was the brilliant Manila 10’s, hosted by the Nomads and this took place a couple of years ago. The Pigs had cunningly entered the competition with a squad of 15 prop forwards. No problem in the scrum, but they started to lose heavily (no pun) when opposing wingers broke into a jog. At the final whistle of their early exit, with the Pigs losing by shit loads of points to none, straight after the traditional handshakes, their captain shouted out “Last one in the bar pays”. It was the only time in the whole weekend that any member of the team ran anywhere. Naturally this terrific unprofessional act got a deserved cheer from the crowd who were impressed with everyone of the fat bastards.
Hopefully as you sit at home reading this, you will remember your tour of Phuket in equally unprofessional terms both on and off the pitch and if like Damian you find your memories of our tournament to be among your rugby favorites, don’t worry the Phuket Heineken International Rugby 10’s will be back next year; less professional than ever!
We would like to thank Damian Hopley for giving us permission to reproduce his work, but we never asked him.