The weather stayed fair for the start of the world’s first rugby 11’s league, the 2023 Dimbulla Estate CNX Rugby 11’s League. The temperature was hot, the humidity was high & the action was relentless!! All solid indicators of what 11’s rugby brings to the table. This new format of the shorter form of the game, being promoted by Australians Mr. Dilip Kimar CEO of Dimbulla Estate & & Mr John O Brien CEO of Whitesmiths, opens up a whole new range of playing options. With the additional forward, at the back of the scrum, there is now a running, passing and support option at scrum time.

The first match of the day was CMU Black/Purple taking on last year 10’s league champions, the Chiang Mai Cobras. It was evident from the kick off that both teams’ tactic would be attacking, running rugby. With things equally poised going towards the end of the first quarter, Cobras’ Jack McPherson broke through the defensive line to score. With the conversion missed, quarter time was Cobras, 5-0.

The 2nd quarter saw the Cobras play their best rugby of the match. Three quick tries from, Pattarapon Ekdamrong, being driven over from a maul, Pop Borwornpak Boonrueng, breaking up the middle from a breakdown and Parit (Ken) Sanwichai, doing what Ken does best, breaking tackles and scoring under the posts, left the CMU side in disarray. With McPherson getting a conversion, the half time score was 22-0 Cobras.

CMU came out in a determined mood for the start of the 3rd quarter and immediately put the Cobras defence under constant pressure, setting them on the back foot. A great try saving tackle by Yannaphat Tanomkulkarn in the corner kept the CMU scoreless as the time was ticking down. The pressure on the Cobras started to tell, resulting in a string of penalties and a high tackle, saw Kon Papadopoulos receive a yellow card and three minutes in the bin. From the resulting penalty, CMU had a lineout 8 metres from the line. The resulting, well set driving maul, saw the CMU Player/Coach Nisachai Ball Maneesai crash over for CMU’s first score of the season. With the conversion being missed from out wide the score at the break was, Cobras 22 CMU 5.

The last period again saw CMU exerting pressure. This Cobras side is resilient and, with their more experienced players back on the pitch, dealt defensively, a lot better with CMU’s dangerous attack. The action ebbed and flowed, as CMU tried to find a way back into the game, though the clock was against them. As it looked like there wouldn’t be any more scores with the clock ticking down towards the redJack McPherson once again got the better of his defender, to go over for his 2nd and Cobras 5th try of the match. Final score Cobras 27 CMU 5.

Cobras chairman, Dave McRitchie said “It was a brilliant day of grassroots rugby. It’s awesome to see and be part of, this growing Chiang Mai rugby family. Massive thanks to all who make this possible, sponsors, family, and friends. On a club level it’s great to get five new players, both Thai and Farang, playing their first games with the Cobras. We are happy to take the win from a highly competitive and talented Chiang Mai Uni club and look forward to the rest of the season!!”

CMU Director of Rugby and player/coach of the CMU Black/Purple team Nisachai Ball Maneesai was proud of his team’s commitment, acknowledging they are a work in progress. He said of the rise of rugby again in the NorthIf you’re the Rugby Addict – Chiang Mai is where you’ll be trapped. …Come and join us!”

Lanna V All Stars

Game two welcomed back the Chiang Mai All Stars taking on a rejuvenated Lanna Rugby Club. With the All Stars missing players on provincial duty and Lanna fielding new recruits the crowd eagerly awaited to see what they would bring to the party. They didn’t disappoint.

A tough first stanza saw both teams probing for a gap to exploit, but the defenses were up to the task. As the game ebbed and flowed, both teams had chances, close to the line, but were held up just short or knocked on, at the last minute. With nothing to choose between the two sides the whistle blew for the break. Score Lanna 0 All Stars 0.

The first score of the match was created when All Stars Thanakrit Boonjareun bamboozled the defence to score under the posts with Chaitawat Thepmongkong converting and giving the All Stars a 7-0 lead. Lanna with a full bench started to ring the changes. It had an immediate effect as their bigger runners started to find gaps and push the All Stars onto the back foot. Lanna’s Katel Thijssen, was on hand to take advantage of a loose ball to go over for their first score. The conversion was missed and at half time it was All Stars 7 Lanna 5.

The start of the 3rd quarter saw the All Stars starting to drop off tackles as the bigger Lanna players found momentum. A missed tackle out wide saw Thomas Stubbly go in for an unconverted try to give them the lead, 10-7. From the restart Stubbly should have doubled his tally, when a break from their own half created an overlap with a free run to the line, but the slippery ball, saw the chance wasted. With the score at 10-7 at the break, it was all still to play for.

The final quarter was attritional with both sides going for the score that could be the difference between winning and losing. All Stars pressed hard but a break up the middle saw Lanna create the chance for Jaime Pell to go in for a converted try to extend their lead. Lanna went in search for the all-important bonus point try and the pressure eventually paid dividends as Rufus Whitbooi went in to clinch the deal. Final Score Lanna 22 All Stars 7

Lanna’s player/coach Matt James said “Thanks to All Stars for such a demanding match, it’s great to see them back in the league. The atmosphere on the pitch and the side line were great. If you missed this weekend, make sure you don’t miss the next one!’

Mike Penistone, the Rugby 11’s coaching consultant said after the days action had concluded, that “11s Rugby is a fast action product. Perfect for all levels of players. It’s Ideal for new clubs and new players”. Mike’s Tip of the Day, “Use 11s to improve your coaching skills”.

What’s Up Next

26th Aug 2023

Chiang Mai University

16:00hrs – CMU Black/Purple v Lanna Rugby Club

17:00hrs – Chiang Mai All Stars v CMU Gallant