A roaring success

When KL Tigers, (Kuala Lumpur), lined up with the Muamalat Bullets (Malaysia) to meet tournament sponsor Dilip Kumar, Chairman of Dimbulla Estate, before the tournament cup final, a message was sent to rugby enthusiasts around the world. Rugby 11s is here to stay.

All those in attendance would have had a tear in their eye as the Thai national anthem was then played and sang with great sincerity.

Both teams were fitting finalists, and as befits all tournament rugby, winning is about playing well in the moment.

KL Tigers were a blessing to watch throughout the earlier rounds, embracing all the skills necessary to play effective 11’s rugby, sometimes attacking down the middle, then wide to some very talented and speedy wingers.

The Bullets were always a threat with their quickness and opportunism. Fittingly the final went down to the final seconds when the Bullets scored a late try to take out the trophy. Both sides are to be complimented on their style of play and sportsmanship.

This year’s tournament included a men’s open, men’s over 35’s, over 45’s and a women’s open competition.

Six ladies’ teams entered this year’s competition which was won by the Dingo’s rugby club from Malaysia.

When I asked one lady what it was, she liked about women’s 11’s rugby, she replied, “It’s a bad ass’ competition, with lots of camaraderie.” I couldn’t argue with that.

Congratulations to the following players of the tournament.

O45s – Colin – Team Hamilton, (South Africa.)

035s – James white – Team Hamilton

Ladies – Cindy – Dingoes. (Malaysia)

Men’s – Dex – Malaysian Bullet team

Rugby 11’s will now expand to become part of the fabric of Asia’s rugby culture. Future tournaments are planned for Chiang Mai, Hanoi, and Colombo.

The Phuket tournament has been in existence for over 20 years. This season’s event was the first in the 11’s format, and saw teams from as far afield as America, South Africa, and the Middle East. Many of the 30 + entrants are regular visitors. All players and coaches agreed that the move to introduce an extra forward to the back of the scrum was a positive step forward and posed questions for both the attack and the defense.

11’s rugby epitomizes all that is good in rugby, with the emphasis on converting physical contact into skillful play or avoiding physical contact altogether. With more space on the field, the challenge for coaches and players is how to find and exploit that space.

The tournament runs for 3 days from Friday to Saturday with Saturday night the traditional party night. This time the party was held at the “Local bar,” on Bang Tao Beach, 30 minutes’ drive from Phuket town. Hundreds of players, coaches, and organizers spilling out onto the beach, the music raw and pulsating, the camaraderie, a re-union for a once in a year friendship. Many arrived in fancy dress. There may be problems around the world, but this was rugby and friendship transcending any global issues. This was rugby and its finest traditions. Players from around the world enjoying each other’s company and competing fiercely when it mattered. Many, only meet at these tournaments and how satisfying it was to see players shaking hands, hugging, and saying, “see you at the next tournament in Chiang Mai.”

Not too long ago, there were very few African players in English/ European premier league soccer teams. Now they embrace teams throughout the world, their talent, and skill on show for all to see.

Asia can do for rugby, what Africa did for football.

Now it’s the time for Asian youth rugby players to make the breakthrough into the major rugby clubs of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The young Asian player has quickness, agility and speed, occasionally blistering speed.

11’s rugby is the perfect development tool for young Asian players and will enable them to transition confidently into the 15 aside code.

A series of 11’s rugby, youth coaching camps networking throughout Asia is being formulated. These camps will challenge both coaches and players. Expectations will be high, the learning curve sharp. If we are to raise the standard of Asian club rugby, we must focus our attention on youth rugby.

Tournament rugby can add real benefits to your club’s playing season, especially if it is part of your pre-season program. Players by nature are competitive and to keep that mental edge they need to compete. Long drawn-out pre-seasons are hardly motivational.

Tournaments are tiered and not just for your top team. Why not enter your entire club?

For further information please contact ….

Pat Cotter…

 Mike Penistone.

 Rugby Coaching consultant