Phuket Vagabonds create history by winning home tournament for the first time.
2015 Champions The Phuket Vagabonds !!
The 2015 Phuket 10s kicked off on Friday with the traditional Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers Vets Tournament where ageing players can still pretend they have the speed, skills and agility that they once possessed in the flower of youth and indeed some of the play was reminiscent of a bygone era where speed and agility were swapped for brute strength and experience. The group games sorted out which team would play in which of the trophy knockouts. In Group A one of the favourites Cottesloe Pirates were expected to go all the way but slipped up in the semi final of the cup going down 14-5 against the Nerang Bulls in an all Australian affair.
In the other semi final the Moorabbin Rams beat the Phuket Viagrabonds 22-0 to set up another Australian derby in the Cup Final.
In the plate semi finals the Bucks Bunnies from Singapore overcame a tough and determined Abu Dhabi Harlequins side 10-5 and the Wrinkly Assassins also from Singapore and last years champions had an easier route to the final beating a tiring RMP Veterans side from Malaysia 34-7.
The Bowl semis saw the Jaegermeister Chefs go down in a thrilling 19-17 encounter to the KL Tigers from Malaysia and the Gulf Legends reliving their glory days by beating the Hong Kong Bulls 22-7 to make the final.
The finals of all three comps were held on Sunday with the Gulf Legends going down 17-5 to the KL Tigers.
In the Plate Final the Wrinkly Assassins lost by the narrowest of margins to their Singapore Rivals the Bucks Bunnies 7-5
The Cup Final was taken by regular winners of the tournament The Moorabbin Rams who beat the tough Nerang Bulls 24-5
Saturday saw the introduction of the young bloods and some entertaining and fascinating match ups kept the large crowd entertained throughout the day.
In group A debutant team the UTP Knights from Malaysia excelled winning all their games to top the group with Melanins from Japan runners up and both teams making the cut for the Cup Knockouts.
Group B was a lot tighter affair with Al Ain Amblers topping their group with three wins and Moorabbin Rams taking the runners up spot. This meant there was only one runners up spot left out of the three remaining groups to make the Cup round.
Group C saw the Rams B side closing out the group three wins out of three with the Nerang Bulls in the runners up slot but would their point difference be enough to get them through to the Cup?
Group D with the Emirates Airline Flying Muppets ending up group winners had the Old Man Mix in the runners up slot after finishing on 6 points but again would the points differential be enough to get through to the coveted Cup Competition.
Group E had the local Phuket Vagabonds team who were looking to win the Cup for the first time in the tournaments 17 year history. This looked a distant dream after losing against the Bucks from Singapore 7-3 in the 2nd game. Only a big win against Alor Star Blues from Malaysia in the last game of the day would give them a chance of picking up the final runners up spot. The lads were up to it not only getting the runners up spot but elevating themselves to fifth in the standings with a 45-0 victory and in the process missing the big three in the Cup Quarter Finals. Nerang Bulls and Old Man Mix would have to battle it out in the bowl competition
Sundays Knockouts started with the bowl quarter finals and the Asian Japanese Dragons sent the Bangkok Bangers Colts down to the spoon competition with an entertaining 12-7 victory.
The Nerang Bulls so unlucky to miss out on a cup place were showing no mercy in beating Insead RFC 36-0.
In a thrilling match Prince of Songkla Rugby were unlucky to go down 10-7 to the Brisbane Vulgarians.
The Old Man Mix led by our own Fijian flyer Mike Whippy held on to beat the Bush Turkeyz 10-0.
In the cup quarter finals Al Ain Amblers and the Moorabbin Rams B faced off and produced a game of top quality rugby which saw the Rams progress 12-7 to send the Amblers into the Shield comp.
In the second match of the cup the Emirates airlines Flying Muppets were too good for Melanins from Japan running out 29-5 winners in a one sided game.
The Phuket Vagabonds obviously still feeling the effects of the night before made hard work of beating the UTP Knights 10-0 to reach the semi finals.
The last of the cup games was a match of the highest quality as the Bucks took on the main Moorabbin Rams side. In a tough encounter the Bucks managed to hold back the late surge from the Rams to win 10-7 and set up a semi final against the local Vagabonds side whom they beat in the group stages.
As the Spoon games got underway the Bangkok Bangers lost their 2nd game of the day to be eliminated by the Alor Star Blues 17-12.
Insead RFC beat a disappointing Xodus Wasps side 17-0 whilst Prince of Songkla earned a walkover into the semi finals and the Bush Turkeys put an end to the Groote Eylandt Mudchooks’s involvement for 2015 by beating them 12-5.
In the Bowl Semi Finals the Asian Japanese Dragons fought all the way to the end but went down 12-5 to the Nerang Bulls. The bigger Brisbane Vulgarians were too strong in the end for the Old Man Mix who went down 15-5.
The Spoon Semi Finals saw Alor Star Blues beat Insead RFC 26-5 and would play Prince of Songkla in the final after they beat The Bush Turkeyz 17-0.
In the Shield Semis the Al Ain Amblers made short work of the Melanins side 36 -5 to reach the final against UTP Knights who got a walk over as through injuries the Moorabbin Rams had to withdraw a side.
The Cup Semis were two games of serious quality and all the teams deserved to make the final. Firstly the Rams held on to beat a resurgent Muppets side to make the final 10-7.
The home town Vagabonds team then took on their nemesis from the group games The Bucks and it looked like it might go the same way as the Bucks took an early 5-0 lead. This only galvanised the Phuket side to greater efforts which eventually paid off as they went over for a converted try to take the lead which they never relinquished under intense Bucks pressure. 7-5. What a Cup Final we had on our hands!
Before the finals commenced the Asia Center Foundation did their annual presentation with 50 of the scholarship children celebrating their 10 year involvement with the Phuket Rugby 10s presenting a stunning choreographed enactment depicting the 10 years from the devastating Tsunami to the present day. They were given a standing ovation at the end and it just shows how much the scholarship program means to them.
Through the efforts of all teams and individual sponsors over the decade we have raised over 8 million Baht and helped over 400 children stay in school. A truly awesome effort by all.
To kick off the finals, for the first time Women’s contact had been played at the 10s and they took the field for a game between hosts the Phuket Warriors and the BKK Bangers Belles.
In an entertaining game the result was 5-5 with the Belles taking the trophy by virtue of winning and drawing games on day one.
The Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers is always entertaining and the finals were no exception with the Bowl between the KL Tigers and the Gulf Legends starting off what would be a fantastic finals series. A close fought game only broke open towards the end as the Legends team began to tire and the Tigers eventually prevailed 17-5.
CD Bowl Winners
KL Tigers – Malaysia
The Plate Semi Final was an all Singaporean affair with last years winners playing under the Nom de Guerre the Wrinkly Assassins taking on the Bucks Bunnies in a final that had the crowd on their feet. A breathtaking show if running rugby by both sides saw the Bucks take it 7-5
CD Plate Winners
The Bucks Bunnies – Singapore
The Cup Final was another derby this time between the Nerang Bulls and regular tournament champions the Moorabbin Rams who were looking to do the double by winning both the vets and open tournaments. In a brutal encounter with no quarter given or asked the Rams superior fitness began to wear the Bulls down and after a close first half the Rams ran in three unanswered tries to become Cup Champions with a 24-5 victory
Athena Siam Coffin Dodgers Cup Champions
Moorabbin Rams – Australia
The much anticipated Cup Final saw the Phuket Vagabonds looking to create history by winning the tournament for the first time. The one and only time the Vagabonds had made a final was also against the same opposition The Moorabbin Rams who were looking to get back to winning ways after losing the 2014 final by two points.
From the kick off the bigger Rams forwards smashed the ball up to try and break down the Vagabonds defence time and time again but the home side resisted with some awesome defence and put pressure on the Rams with their swift counter attacking rugby which produced the only score of the first half when Wihan Adlam forced his way over for a try which captain Darryn Mathee converted for the Vagabonds to take a 7-0 lead into half time.
The second half started in much the same way with ferocious hits and brutal tackles giving neither side the advantage when from turn over ball the Vagabonds launched an attack which saw the ball kicked down field and Francois de Kock gathered before side stepping two defenders to score under the posts against converted by Mathee for a 14-0 lead with 7 minutes to go.
A big turning point in the game came when a vagabonds player was sin binned after a high tackle and the Rams sensing their chance sent wave after wave of attacks against the Vagabonds line which eventually broke the home side down and scored two tries in the next two minutes with one of the conversions crucially missed which would prove decisive as the Vagabond back to full strength held out for the final four minutes to create history and become champions for the first time with a 14-12 victory.
The Spoon Final kicked off the open tournament finals and the Prince of Songkla Rugby played an entertaining game overcoming the Alor Star Blues from Malaysia 14-5.
Prince of Songkla Rugby – Thailand
The Bowl Final was again two Australian sides with the Nerang Bulls who surprisingly didn’t make the cup running out 17-0 winners over the Brisbane Vulgarians who were making their Phuket 10s debut.
Nerang Bulls – Australia
In the Shield Final a very strong Al Ain Amblers were just too powerful for the younger UTP Knights Uni side from Malaysia and in a one sided game the Amblers won 46-0
Al Ain Amblers – UAE
The plate final between the two sides who were knocked out of the cup semis was an anticlimax as the Emirates Airlines Flying Muppets forfeited the game as they had to catch flights thus handing the Plate and third place to a very good Bucks side.
The Bucks – Singapore
Big thanks to Jean Luc and his team of referees who did a great job over the weekend.
Strategic Sports and the team, Kai Boonmuang, Bubble Bee & Maria Cotter for a job well done.
Athena Siam Limited
Asia Center Foundation
Phuket International Academy
Rhino Rugby Asia
Bamboo Hut Herbal Blends
Phuket International Hospital
The London Pie
The Phuket News & Live89.5