Callum Lewis Memorial Trophy
Saturday 23rd October 2021
The Ambassador Bilingual Academy pitch was in tip top condition as the Cobras and Southerners arrived to compete for what will be an annual match, to commemorate the late Callum Lewis, a prodigious talent on and off the pitch, who will be forever missed.
For Chiang Mai Cobras it would be their first outing at 15 a side rugby. To help fill out the ranks, other clubs joined in to get a fix of the 15s game. With players from Chiang Mai Uni, Maejo, Payap Rugby and Lanna Lions represented, and with Southerners, Matthew Power and Augustin Lecoq opting to play with the Cobras, it was a great coming together to take on a Southerners side who have been at the top of the Thai Rugby scene for many years. With players from all the rugby playing nations in their ranks, the Southerners were in a confident mood.
The Southerners Director of Rugby Corry McCarthy said “We’d like to thank the Cobras for this opportunity to come play in Chiang Mai. It’s been almost 8 months since our last game in Phuket, so it’s a real pleasure to get out and play the great game of rugby that we all love.” Continuing he said “. It’s special that both teams agreed to honour our dear team mate Callum Lewis in today’s game.”
Experienced referee Pattarapon Ekdamrong called over the captains, Southerners’ Luc Legrand and Cobras’ Matty Valentine, for the toss with Legrand electing to kick off.
From the first whistle, it was obvious that it was going to be a tough day at the coalface for the local team, as wave after wave of attacks by the Bangkok side eventually broke down the stoic home defense to score.
The Cobras competed hard at the breakdown and in the tackle to get hold of some possession but the line speed of the Southerners shut down any threats before they could gain momentum. Cobra’s Charlie Jones and Josh Lim carried hard and always made inroads, and with Veteran Dave McRitchie in superb form, it kept the opposition pack on their toes, having to fight for every ball. The introduction of Lanna Lions’ Dave Hendershot and Tom Stubly brought more stability and, with their ability to break the first tackle, some much needed forward momentum. Cobra, Rowan Carroll, was a constant thorn for the Southerners the whole game, chasing and tackling all across the park. Southerners’ forwards Laurent, Mon and Andy had great games and in setting up a driving maul, helped Sod Yimlamai score his first try for the club.
The Southerners back line led by captain and outside half, Luc Legrand, controlled the centre field and, with plenty of options from centers Knotie and Leo, opened up the space for debutant Stefan Psota to excel and run in a couple of tries. Their support play was exceptional and carved open the Cobras defense on numerous occasions. They should have had more tries on the board but, Xavier Mahdavian, butchered a couple. First he thought he’d scored, but he was taken into touch by a wonderful covering tackle from Damian May. Then being put clean through for a certain score, he dropped the ball with the line at his mercy. He knew it wasn’t to be his day when he dived in for the try, but to the amusement of all realised, after ref Pattarapon pointed it out that, it was in fact, the 5 metre line. Every team has a villain and today it was Xavier Mahdavian.
As the game wore on the Cobras started to gain more possession and scrum half, Most Padabyod, tried all his tricks to create some forward ball. With Ritchie Davies and Matty Valentine finally getting some relief from defensive duties they started to make inroads, putting the Southerners line under pressure. Centre Tanachod Omsin almost got the score but was held up over the line to be denied what would have been a well-deserved consolation. Wing Sam Morphett was one of the contenders for player of the match, with his speed and defense crucial in helping break down numerous attacks in the Cobras half.
The Southerners were superior in all departments but had to fight for every ball and, though they scored numerous tries, the Cobras’ never say die attitude let them know that they’d been in a game.
Corry McCarthy said “It’s was a great game today and I was very proud of the way our team performed, especially in defense. The score line doesn’t reflect how tough the Cobras side was. They were hard to breakdown and never gave up fighting hard in all aspects of the game. It shows me there’s a great team spirit here and the culture of the Cobras will grow into the future.” “We look forward to the Callum Lewis Memorial becoming an annual event, hosting the Cobras in Bangkok or coming back to Chiang Mai.”
The most important part of the weekend was the after match presenatation held at the UN Irish. In true touring style the Southerners turned up in fancy dress with the star of the show being Freddy Mercury. When asked by one of the kids if he could still sing, he proceeded to give a stiring rendition of the whole 1985 Queen set at the Wembly “Live Aid” concert, to the delight of all.
As the presentations began, the poignant poem to Callum, composed by Lobsang Garrido (Lobster), was read out in respectful silence, with a huge cheer for Callum, at the end.
Cobras captain Matty Valentine said “It was a great weekend of Rugby. Our team came into the game with a lot of small goals and we ticked a lot of those off. It was the first hit out for our club in the fifteens format and we completely enjoyed the experience. The game was very good quality footy and we were taught a few good lessons from a club that has been around for a while. We spoke about the trophy and what it represented before the game and wanted to compete as hard as we could for this memorial game and give it the respect it deserved. I’m really proud of our team for giving the game a good nudge and working hard for each other. We will only benefit as a club and team from these types of games.”
Before Southerners captain Luc Legrand was presented with the Callum Lewis Memorial Trophy, Cobras chairman Dave McRitchie said “Today was a great day for the Cobras. It was our first 15s match against an established and quality Bangkok Southerners side. It was a tough match looking at the score line, but our young side battled hard for the full 80 minutes and played with pride in the spirit of the game. The Southerners are a great club and it was definitely a highlight to take the pitch at home against them. Very proud of our team, our young players both Thai and farang played their hearts out. Well done and well played by all!!”. Dave then handed over the trophy to rapturous applause.
Southerners’ Hywel Day (Tour secretary) “I’m really proud of how the boys bought in to the Callum Lewis memorial trophy, and for the terrific attitude brought on and off the pitch. It really was a cracking tour. We have a number of new players who integrated excellently and we are excited for what is to come.” “Special thanks to Pat, Dave and all of the Cobras for being terrific hosts and playing with pride and true rugby spirit on the pitch. We look forward to seeing you develop alongside us for many years to come.”