The Old Bangkok Bangers Rugby Club was founded at the Wall Street Bar & Grill Soi 33, Sukhumvit in July 2001. Wall Street had opened some three months earlier to show Super 12 rugby live previously unavailable in Bangkok It was after a post game analysis when some like minded Australasian expatriates tossed the notion around of forming an over 35s rugby club in Thailand.
The founding members were John Beard, Jake Meerman and Rick OShea. John pushed for the name the Old Bangkok Bangers Rugby Club and it stuck. On 5th August 2001 the first club meeting was attended by 6 people. John Beard was elected Chairman, Jake the Secretary/Treasurer and Rick the TRU Liaison member. After Thai Rugby Union (TRU) approval process,Tom Watters a veteran of many rugby club start ups around the planet, joined the committee as the Club Captain.
The end of 2001 saw the Bangers play their first game, against the Shanghai Shaggers. In 2003 the Old Bangkok Bangers had their first official tour to the World Golden Oldies tournament in Brisbane attended by 5000 players from around the globe.The next tour was to Limerick in Ireland, where the club played in the inaugural Veterans International Rugby Festival. Since then, the Bangers have participated in tournaments in San Diego, Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Perth.
It was around this time, Tom Kerr a likeable Northern Irishman, turned up and volunteered to train the Bangers each Sunday afternoon at a local international school. Whilst putting the lads through the hoops with rigorous training sessions, he did emphasize the social aspect of the game with team building sessions at a nearby outdoor Thai restaurant, affectionately known as the Red & White. The restaurants beer sales rose exponentially.
From 2003 onwards, the Old Bangkok Bangers have experienced tremendous growth and popularity, with teams visiting Thailand from New Zealand, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Russia and South Africa. On the domestic scene, the Old Bangkok Bangers have continued to increase membership and are now the largest rugby club in Thailand. At the last count, fifteen nationalities from around the rugby playing world have joined either as social or playing members.
Due to the rugby spirit and membership strength, the club now fields a second side, the Bangers Colts – under 35s. They have performed well in games and tournaments locally in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket and regionally in Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam, The Banger Colts, now play in the Thai Rugby Union premier division.
In late 2009, the club built another team the Banger Ancients, to cater to players beyond fifty. The Ancients play three or four game a year and play a breed of rugby not seen in the modern game. Then three years ago, because of interest from female members, the club started a women’s contact rugby team, the Banger Belles. They have already had tremendous success and added trophies to the cabinet.
Rugby dinners and other functions have been held, with notable rugby personalities. These personalities have included EricRush, Jonah Lomu, Wayne “Buck” Shelford, Tim Horan, John Mitchell, Richard Loe, Owen Finnegan, Martin Bayfield, John Eales, Naas Botha and Waisale Serevi.
Another club initiative is to spread rugby throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. The club supports the Nak Suu Tigers Rugby Academy. The club assists with a coaching program for underprivileged Thai youngsters with a little financial and physical help from the Old Bangkok Bangers club members.
The Bangers support another charity, the Asia Centre Foundation, a scholarship program for children in Phuket. The goal is to help finance a new school. This program also assists with their educational needs.
Additional financial support for both these programs is derived from the annual Bangers in Bikes Charity Bike Ride. Conceived six years, the riders all members of the club, have raised over one million baht to support the programs. The rides are no a walk in the park with the riders pedaling around 200 kilometers a day, over four to five days.
Behind our games, we have a vibrant club that exists for the purpose of supporting the players, promoting rugby culture and reaching out to the community. More importantly, the club serves to introduce new players to the game.
The club is proud of the manner in which it strives to maintain many of the traditional values associated with club rugby. The club is very supportive of its players and as a result is able to generate a club room atmosphere that is the envy of many.