A Festival of Rugby in Chiang Mai

 | Wed 30 Oct 2013 06:00 ICT

This weekend saw the 4th Edition of the Chiang Mai International Rugby Tens Tournament take place at Prince Royal College, and a true festival of rugby was provided by the strong field of 20 teams. 

Winners of The Cup: Royal Thai Air Force

The players turned up bright and early on both Saturday and Sunday to offer a fine exhibition of this venerable sport, assisted by the excellent team of referees, score-keepers, and all the other people who are essential to keep an event of this size running smoothly.

After ten days of rain we were lucky that the pitch had dried out just the day before the tournament, and at no time was play disrupted by showers. The men and ladies made the most of it, playing with gusto, and no shortage of verve and skill. The matches came thick and fast all day long, with 26 matches played on the first day alone.  

The men’s teams were organised into four groups, and on Saturday they played each other for places in Sunday’s finals. The ladies, who had five teams, played their own round-robin competition that spanned both days.

The two teams who had travelled the furthest, Darwin Stray Cats and the New Zealand team, Taupiri, both made contributions in their own special way. The Aussies brought a game attitude and their own brand of merry-making, and the Kiwis brought a neat game which took them all the way to the semi-finals, not to mention an awesome rendition of the Haka, which went down a storm with the local crowd. They even performed their famous ritual dance a second time at the request of the Thai youngsters, a very sporting and generous gesture. Thanks guys, and credit to both teams for coming such a long way to participate.

And so to the winners and losers…

Ladies first, of course, and congratulations to Bangkok IPE, the Ladies’ Champions. A mention also for the superb runners-up, Chula, and in case you haven’t watched any ladies rugby recently, then it comes highly recommended – lots of bone-crunching tackles, skilful passing, and boy can some of them sprint for the line!

Moving on to the men’s game, congrats to the winners of the Bowl competition, CMU Science, who beat their counterparts, CMU Aggies in the final.

The Shield winners this year were Bangkok IPE who beat Chiang Rai in the final, and the winners of this year’s plate were the Prince Royal College, who beat a plucky Pattaya side handsomely in the final. Well done to the hosts on their success!

And so to the main event, the “Cup”, which was won by the Royal Thai Air Force, who beat the Chiang Mai Tigers 21-5 in a thrilling final watched by a large and noisy crowd. Congratulations to Royal Thai Air Force for winning the Chiang Mai International Rugby Tens Tournament 2013 in style, and well done also to Chiang Mai Tigers for their second place and some super rugby.

After the gongs had all been handed out, the players and officials regrouped at the U.N. Irish Pub, the event’s main sponsor, for a few beers and a chance to watch a replay of the games on the big screen. Special thanks are due to Sandy Cullen for organising the event and generally keeping everything ticking over, a splendid achievement. Roll on next year’s event! 

The Chiang Mai International Rugby Tens Tournament is organised with the aim of promoting the sport in Northern Thailand, and all funds generated will be used to this end. The host team, Chiang Mai Tigers Rugby Club, have pulled out all the stops to make sure the logistics for this large event are all in place, and the help from sponsors such as the U.N. Irish Pub has been indispensable.