CNX Rugby Shines At Pattaya 10s

By | Thu 9 May 2024

The Pattaya 10s was held at the Horseshoe point over the weekend of 4-5 May and it was a watershed moment for Chiang Mai rugby. The Chiang Mai Cobras and the Chiang Mai Cobras All Stars put in 2 teams with a combined number of 40 plus Thai players & 6 expats. Along with Lanna Lions joining the Phuket Vagabonds in their endearours it was a great showcase for the rugby talent that is currently playing in Chiang Mai.

The Chiang Mai Cobras were drawn in Group A with the Bangkok Japanese, French Asian Barbarians & the Phuket Vagabonds. The Chiang Mai Cobras All Stars were in a tough Group C with the Bangkok Bangers, Southerners Black & the Darwin Stray Cats.

In searing heat, the lads took to the field and it was an epic day for Northern Thai rugby. The Chiang Mai Cobras went through the day unbeaten. In a see saw match against the BKK Japanese it looked like the Cobras had lost when the Japanese side went in with a minute to play to make it 17-14. Converted tries by Jack McPherson and Everett “Sid” Brown had put the Cobras in control with 4 minutes to play at 14-7 but 2 quick tries by the Japanese side had put them in control. It took an act of individual brilliance from jack who chipped over the top, regathered and brushed off a couple of tackles to score and win the game 21-17.

The 2nd game against the FAB’s was a tough one. The Cobras went down early to an unconverted try 5-0 FAB’s. In a game dominated by awesome defense on both sides, it took another piece of brilliance from Parit “Ken” Sanwichai who weaved through and brushed off half the FAB’s team to score out wide. A pin point conversion from McPherson saw the Cobras home 7-5. The last game of the day was against the Phuket Vagabonds. In a feisty game that was evenly balanced, the Cobras took the lead when Ken weaved his magic to score and McPherson again put the kick right down the middle. The Vagabonds drew level with 11 players on the pitch 7-7.  At the end McPherson, who was having a tournament to remember, went in to clinch it 12-7. What a day for the Cobras winning all three group games.

The Cobras All Stars were in a tough group but they stood tall. In the first game against the Bangers, they dominated the breakdown and their pace out wide was a constant threat. A converted try By Ut saw the All Stars take control 7-0. The second half was an attritional affair with the Bangers coming close on numerous occasions to scoring. Nisechai “Ball” Maneesai, showed he still had what it takes as he put in crunching tackles and providing go forward ball and stability when it was most needed. As the clock wound down, wing Fook sneaked in at the corner as the All Stars won a memorable game 12-0.

The second game was against old friends and nemeses, the Southerners Black. In a game of few chances, it was a great display of defensive, attritional rugby with neither side able to get the upper hand. A 0-0 result in any form of the shorter game is a rare result indeed and showed the commitment of both sides to defend the line.

The final All Stars game was against the Darwin Stray Cats, a vet’s team from Australia. The game was played in the right spirit and though Darwin did get on the scoreboard early, the All Stars pulled away in the second half to take a creditable win 22-7 to finish the day unbeaten.

What a day for Chiang Mai Rugby as both sides went through the groups stages unbeaten to finish top of their respective groups, to progress to the Cup Quarter Finals

Day 2

The Cobras were fired up for their Cup quarter final against Surin Rugby Club and welcomed back star scrum half Pudis Sangsuwan to the squad. The Cobras forwards made a statement early on with prop Pongporn “Folk” Piboonsri carrying hard and Rowan Carroll doing his thing. The Surin lads were rattled and McPherson put them on the back foot going in for a converted try just before half time. 7-0. The Surin side fought hard and continued to press for an equalizer. A scrum centre field saw Cobras scrum half Pudis Sangsuwan picked and went, crashing through the tackles to score under the posts. McPherson converted. 14-0. With the clock ticking into the red Sangsuwan again broke the shackles and with it Surin’s hearts to score in the corner. Cobras through to the Cup semifinals 19-0.

The Cup semi final was against the Southerners Gold team brimming with talent. From the outset it was obvious it was gonna be a hard game. Both teams gave no quarter. The bigger Southerners pack was well drilled and hunted well together, particularly at the breakdown. For all the Cobras’ endeavours, they couldn’t get a break through the solid defensive line. The Southerners got a score on half time to lead 7-0. Two further scores late in the second half put the Cobras out of the competition 19-0. A great effort by a Cobras side that has improved immensely since their conception three years ago and proves that all the development work, they have undertaken in that time is paying off. With 42 Thai players in both squads, it’s a remarkable achievement and does Chiang Mai & Northern rugby proud.

The All Stars went into their quarter final against the BC Legends with high hopes. After a dominate first half they only led 5-0, with further scores going begging. The second half was much the same with both sides looking for the decisive score. With the clock ticking down it looked like the five points would be enough, but with the last play of the match the BC winger slipped his marker to go in under the posts. With the kick going over the All Stars were out of the cup and relegated to the Plate division semifinal. Though the lads were disappointed they were still in the hunt for some silverware.

The All Stars played the Bangkok Japanese in the semifinal. With both sides determined to make the final it was a no holds barred affair. The all Stars speed out wide saw them take an early lead 7-0 and a missed tackle on the stroke of halftime saw them cross again to take control of the game 12-0. The Japanese to their credit didn’t give up and fought hard. Some scuffles broke out as frustration led to some unsavory behavior, but overall it was a well contested battle with the correct outcome. All Stars in the final 12-0.

The Final was against the Surin Rugby Club whom had lost to the Cobras earlier in the day. They obviously wanted to make amends for that defeat and came out strong. The All Stars were solid in defense and quick to counter when possible. In the end the more experienced All Stars took control with two quick tries before half time to be in control at 14-0. Surin were vitalized after the break and an early score made it 14-7 and suddenly the nerves kicked in with the All Stars and it was a relief, after sustained pressure that they were awarded a penalty which proved to be the last play of the match and the All Stars were Plate winners 14-7. A great game with two evenly matched teams, packed full of future Thai talent.

The weekend was a success beyond all expectations with an 8 win, 1 draw & 2 losses over the two days. A great return and awesome experience for all concerned. Cobras coach Dave McRitchie still defies his age and continues to lead from the front. All Stars team manager and mentor Nor Zasi is an inspiration to all the young Thai lads coming through and the legend that is Nisechai “Ball” Maneesai is essential in all that is good about Thai rugby.

We would like to thank the Welcome Inn, KMF, Ohayo, Assist Thai Visa, Zasi Sports, Training Box Chiang Mai, family and friends for helping make this happen.

Next up for the Cobras is the Amora Hotels & Resorts Phuket International Dimbulla Rugby 11s in June