The Gaijin celebrated their return to rugby in South East Asia with victory in the Bangkok 10s plate tournament. But as is always the case with these tours, our off-field performance will live just as long in the memory. From one of our backs being frogmarched out of Nana Plaza within seconds of his arrival – which is, by the way, no easy feat in a place of such lawless debauchery – to our tour virgin zipping around Bangkok in a wheelchair while his appointed minder embraced Thailand’s legalization of marijuana, it was certainly a competition of firsts.
On the field, the performances were of the highest calibre, too, with victories against Gymkhana of Bombay and the Saigon Geckos on day one. Day two saw the Gaijin pitted against Jigsaw in the plate semi-final, a hard-fought encounter which we survived, despite losing our balding captain early in the game after he tripped over his receding hairline. Against the odds, we progressed to the plate final against the Hanoi Dragons, a repeat of a double-header a few months past in Phnom Penh, in which the Dragons had been victorious.
The final proved to be tight and physical, with two yellow cards (one apiece), and a single try making the difference. When the last whistle blew at 5-0 to the Gaijin, elated players flooded the pitch as the dipping Bangkok sun through long shadows across the turf. To win a competition where the standard of play was so high across the board – and to do it with mounting injuries – was testament to the belief and cohesiveness of the team.
Of course, more off-field antics followed, including a lengthy and tequila-filled kangaroo court, as every member was made to stand trial and pay penance for their respective misdemeanours. The celebrations continued long into the following morning and our livers are still paying the price. But it’s a price worth paying for one of the best and most successful tours to date.
Big thank you to our sponsors for the tour, SAS3, West Club United and Nasnos. Thank you and great job to Tomohiro Setoguchi for organizing the tour and of course to all the players who never gave up and left everything on and off the field.
Rewatch the Plate Final in the link below.
Go on you good thing!