CNX Local Lad to Play in Australia

By | Wed 29 May 2024

CNX Cobras Player Pathway Initiative

“One of our visions when we formed Cobras Rugby a few years ago was to create a viable pathway for our talented, young Thai players. Little did we know that in three short years these discussions would lead to sending Pudis Sangsuwan to play with Kempsey Cannonballs in Australia in May of this year” said Cobras Chairman Dave McRitchie on a rugby initiative that is beginning to change lives.

Kempsey Cannon Balls were established in New South Wales, Australia in 1975 and play in the Mid North Coast Rugby Union NSW Zone. They are approaching their 50th anniversary & currently the Kempsey Cannonballs RUFC has three members of the club currently playing in Super Rugby; Darby Lancaster and Zac Hough for the Melbourne Rebels, Triston Reilly for the NSW Waratahs and a female member; Chloe Saunders playing for NSW in the 7s. There was probably no better era in Kempsey Cannonball history, as the early 90’s, which saw the club reach its pinnacle, winning the 1992 Premiership.

The club has always punched well above its weight, and currently field sides from U6 to 1st XV. The club is so popular that they actually field multiple sides in each age group from U6 to U12, have U14s, U16 men and women, U18s, Reserve Grade, Open Women’s and the 1st XV.

The player pathway is the brainchild of Kempsey stalwart Craig Harman, Pat Cotter & Dave McRitchie of the CNX Cobras Rugby Club, who have collaborated on providing opportunities to talented Thai kids regardless of background or affiliation. Craig said, “I have been talking up Thai rugby and its development for over a decade within my home club. With Pudis arriving, they can see for themselves why I am so excited. I can’t wait to see him play. Hopefully, we can add further to his rugby knowledge and skills, and most importantly show him what Australian country rugby culture is all about”

Pudis Sangsuwan (Au) was born in Chiang Mai and studied at the Prince Royal’s College (P.R.C.), Chiang Mai from kindergarten to grade 12 and graduated from the Chiang Mai University School of International Affairs, Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration 2023. He is currently working as regional sales manager at ZASI Sports Co. Ltd.

Pudis has been playing with the Chiang Mai All Stars in tournaments and leagues and is a keen member of the Cobras Rugby Club’s Touring team. Pudis was named player of the 2023 Dimbulla CNX Rugby 11s league. Nor Zasi manager/coach of Chiang Mai All Stars Rugby Club said “Chiang Mai All-Stars rugby club was delighted to hear that “Au” had been selected to be the first player for the Cobras Player Pathway Initiative. Pudis was voted MVP for the club 2 years running (2022-2023). We will miss his side steps and the flash running. Now, he will go to find his dream in Australia for 3 months. He will come back more experienced, stronger and with better technique, which he can pass back into the rugby community”.

Pudis was understandably nervous, but excited, about the opportunity to have the adventure of a lifetime, and chase his dream. “I would like to thank the CNX Cobras for their trust in me to carry the flag for Northern Thai rugby and I will do my best to make everyone proud”

Dave gave some insight into how the initiative progressed explaining “Through lots of conversations, messages, and calls via Pat Cotter’s extensive rugby network, we found a partner club in Kempsey Cannonballs with lots to offer and we wanted to send one of our best players to put our mark on rugby in Australia.  Pudis is an ideal candidate. He is an excellent player with great vision as a scrum half.  He is quick and ruthless in attack and equally ferocious in defence.  He trains and plays with passion and a smile on his face.  And to top it off, he is tremendously humble and brings out the best in his teammates.  His girlfriend and family fully support him chasing his rugby dreams”.

Kempsey Cannonballs’ Craig Harman, has held just about every position at the Cannonballs over nearly two decades and currently sits on the MNCRU Judiciary. He told us that current KCRU Director of Rugby Alan Nugent has been coaching at the highest levels for over 40 years, and has coached rugby all over the world. The Kempsey club have had experience with their own player pathway in the past, when Jarod Saul followed Alan to Berlin, Germany, in 2014 for a rugby experience, just like Pudis is doing. Jarod ended up staying there, eventually signing a professional contract with the German 7s side, and has since played more than 100 games of Int. 7s for Germany.

Kempsey’s’ current player pathway has a direct route to the Super Rugby Pacific franchises with Darby Lancaster (20y.o) also a part of the current Aussie 7s squad. He has become one of the most followed union players in the country and is seen as a future Wallaby and superstar of the game. On debut for the rebels, he scored 3 tries. His father James was also a gifted player. James holds an ARU Level 3 Coaching Certificate and is a part of the Cannonballs Coaching Staff.

Pudis Travels to Australia

It has not been an easy road.  First, we had to secure a visa, which was rejected the first time.  Next, we had to raise funds as we, as a club, wanted Pudis to only have to think about playing rugby. Fortunately, the rugby fraternity and friends from all over the world have lent a hand and donated money via GoFundMe.  We were able to pay for his flight, his visa, extra insurance, his medical and biometrics and give him a bit of cash to help get sorted on arrival. The Kempsey Cannonballs club hosting Pudis have provided accommodation as well as a car.

This has been an exciting journey so far and we are confident that Pudis will represent the CNX Cobras, CM All Stars and Chiang Mai rugby proudly. We could not be more pleased than to see him take on this challenge.  Not only will he grow as a rugby player but as a person. It is always endearing to see a player gain experience in a challenging environment. He will be better for it and will bring back all the knowledge and experience he gains on this adventure, to share with his Cobras & Northern Thai rugby family.

We would like to thank Simon A Wetherell of who’s determination and doggedness secured the visa for Pudis when all seemed lost.

Pudis has landed in Sydney on 29th May 2024 and has traveled North to Kempsey to begin his rugby adventure. We wish him well and will be following his journey with extreme interest.

From all of us at Cobras Rugby, thanks 🙏 so very much for your support, help, words of encouragement. All the clubs sponsors & everyone who donated to help this happen. This is a proper life changing event and we are so proud and excited to see what Pudis can do. With you we can achieve all things!!! We are stronger together!! Cobras 🐍!!!!!!
Next up for the Cobras Player Pathway Iniative is to send two players to play at Lowesoft & Yarmouth Rugby Club in the UK for a season in the autumn.

For more information on Pudis’ adventure or on Cobras Rugby Club email