Cobras Win Plate at Ha Noi 10s

By | Thu 21 Mar 2024

The Hanoi Dragons 30th Anniversary Rugby 10s

The Chiang Mai Cobras gathered at Chiang Mai International airport on Friday 15th March for the long-awaited tour to the Hanoi Dragons 30th anniversary Rugby 10s tournament in Vietnam. A strong squad of local Thai & expat players, was complemented with Cobras, Everett “Sid” Brown, Samual Lam & Rodolphe Prouheze flying in from Okinawa, Singapore & Hong Kong respectively, to be part of what would turn out to be an epic tour.

The Hanoi Dragons have been a great supporter of Rugby in Thailand playing in the Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket rugby tournaments on a regular basis. A very social and well drilled team they are tough adversaries on and off the pitch. They are also gracious hosts and held the opening party at one of their sponsors locations, The Moose & Roo smokehouse. Needless to say, the beers were flowing, and tall tales of rugby lore were told. What was particularly endearing was a large group of elderly gentlemen from the Dragons who had flown in from around the world for the 30th year celebrations.

Hanoi is a vibrant city with an energetic street culture, and it proved to be a good warm up for the Cobras as they dodged and weaved their way amongst the crowds. For many of the Thai players it was their first time abroad and they handled themselves impeccably.

Saturday 16th march and off to the National Sports Training facility for a leisurely start for the first game, against the home town favorites the Hanoi Dragons Red team. The Cobras were confident and with Chiang Mai All Star players, Nisachai “Ball” Maneesai & Pudis Sangsuwan filling out the ranks, it was hoped to pull off a surprise result. The Dragons are always strong when traveling and being at home could put out their best side. Although the Cobras took it to them, the bounce of the ball and some of the decisions going against them, they couldn’t find any momentum. With Rowan Caroll having to leave the field after a head knock, some of the Cobras go forward, was reduced. The bigger Dragons had to work hard but eventually prevailed 24-0, which wasn’t really a reflection of the game after all the effort.

The 2nd game of the day was against a Barbarians side. The Cobras were determined to show what they could do but against the run of play the Barbarian’s untilised turnover ball and scored in the corner.  Pop Boonruang put the cobras back on level terms after some slick moves from the backs with Pudis & Jack creating the opening. A tight first half and the Cobras were all square at 5-5. In the 2nd half the Cobras forwards, through the energy of Everett “Sid” Brown & exceptional lineout work by Rodolphe “Rudi” Prouheze began to make serious inroads. Gaining front foot ball meant that Pudis could weave his magic and enable Captain Jack McPherson to open the doors. Pop was the beneficiary as he ran in 2 more tries for a man of the match performance as the hattrick man. McPherson converted them both as the Cobras won 19-5.

Day Two

The third and final group game was an early 10.30 kick off against the Saigon Geckos. With the Cobras improving in every game, it was a tight fought affair. The Geckos are a solid squad and play a style akin to the Cobras, fast open running rugby. The Geckos put Cobras under immense pressure early on but solid defense across the board saw them held out. Pattarapon Ekdamrong & Nisachai “Ball” Maneesai poaching at the breakdown won important turnovers. Dave McRitchie, one of the oldest players in the tournament, showed he could still mix it with the youngsters, putting in some huge hits to disrupt the Geckos momentum. In a game of few chances, geckos got the ball out wide. The long-floated pass was there for the intercept, but it was just tantalizingly out of reach of Pudis, which opened up the line for them to score. 7-0 Geckos. Though the Cobras came close, particularly when Parit Sanwichai bamboozled the defenders to make the opening, only to slip in the damp conditions, which gave the cover defense time to realign and stop the danger. With both defenses dominant there was no further score and Cobras went down 7-0.

Plate Semi-Final

The Plate semi final was against the Tokyo Gaijin from Japan, a team who had beaten the Cobras by the slenderest of margins at the recent Bangkok 10s. It looked like the Gaijins would repeat the feat as they took an early lead with a try in the corner. The Cobras weren’t about to be rolled over and 2 quick tries before half time by Pudis Sangsuwan and Pop Boonruang, both converted by Jack McPherson saw the Cobras go in 14-5 up at the break.

The start of the second half had the Cobras immediately on attack. McPherson, who was having a sensational tournament, got back-to-back tries in the space of a couple of minutes, both converted, to give the Cobras total control. The Gaijins are a proud team and fought hard to the end, but Cobras would have the final say when half back Pudis Sangsuwan went in for his second. Pop Boonrueng slotted the extras for an emphatic Cobras win 35-5.

Plate Final

The Hanoi Dragons second team, The Blacks, were hoping to get their hands on the trophy, on home ground. The Cobras however, now brimming with confidence, had other ideas. An early converted try by Rudi had Hanoi chasing the game and as the half drew to a close Pop was on hand to break the line and score under the posts for his 5th try of the tournament. McPherson again converted to make it 14-0 Cobras at the half.

The Cobras immediately got on the board again when Australia bound Pudis, left the defenders in his wake to score a fine individual try. Parit Sanwichai, who had been unlucky not to score in previous games, finally got on the scoresheet, with the conversion slotted over by prop forward Pongporn “Folk” Piboonsri. In a dominant Cobras display, it was perhaps fitting that one of the stars of the tournament over the weekend, Pudis should get the last score of the game, for the Cobras to win the plate by 31 points to 0.

A great tournament, great hosts, great camaraderie and fun. Rugby in the region is buzzing and the quality is on the rise. With so many local Asians playing the game now, it bodes well for the future of the sport.

The Cobras development strategy is definitely paying off with a total of 12 Thai lads in the playing squad of 16. The tourists who can be proud of their achievements were, Dave McRitchie, Opart Nawisit, Pattarapon Ekdamrong, Nisachai “Ball” Maneesai, Pudis Sangsuwan, Pop Boonrueng, Pongporn “Folk” Piboonsri, Samual Lam, Everett “Sid” Brown, Parit Sanwichai, Wilailuk Khacha, Nils Diechart, Rowan Caroll, Josh Lim, Rodolphe “Rudi” Prouheze & last but not least Captain Jack McPherson. The team was well coached by Matt Nunn with Pat Cotter doing his bit on logistics.

Try Scorers

Pop Boonrueng x 5, Pudis Sangsuwan x 4, Jack McPherson x 2, Parit Sanwichai x 1, Rodolphe “Rudi” Prouheze x 1

A team needs its sponsors to develop and give opportunities and the CNX Cobras are grateful for all sponsors, old and new. Current Sponsors: Welcome Inn, First Bar, Why Not, Curve Bar, Assist Thai Visa, CFCNX, Ohayo Pet Hospital, Ohayodogie Dog Hotel, Bangarang, Ling. Special mention to CM All Stars, Prince Rugby Club, Old Breed Marine Rugby, Raw Dogs, LY Rugby family and friends. Big thanks to The Score & the UN Irish for all their help in the past.

Finally, a massive thank you to the Hanoi Dragons, players, supporters & the officials for organizing a great weekend of rugby and fun. Sign us up for next year!