And so it was time yet again to take the annual pilgrimage to Phuket.
This year being older and wiser we decided to send a reconnaissance party ahead of the main group to find suitable training facilities for the team and organize tours of the local Wats as a cultural pick me up.
Time spend in reconnaissance is seldom wasted and the four strong recon party soon had everything in hand and suitable sites observed.
The main party led by the unflappable Soi Dog arrived at the hotel in fine form on the Thursday evening suitable attired in touring shirt and “chang “hat. To keep fitness up aerobics took part on the bus from the airport thanks to the efforts of DJ Eric.
Having sorted rooms out and unpacked in orderly fashion the tour headed for its club house away from home.The beach Bar greeted enthusiastically in antipodean lilt by the owner Pete .The evening was spent quietly discussing line out calls and miss moves in preparation for the next days clash with the mighty Viagrabonds ,luckily Pete had ordered extra diet coke so the evening was a great success .All to soon it was 9.45 and time for the team to head for home for a well deserved slumber.
Up with the lark the next morning for the normal pre breakfast training session followed by a light breakfast of muesli and carrot juice .Then off to the stadium.
Game faces on we arrived to the raptures of the sell out crowd.
Time to defend the Weasel Cup Donned proudly in the new kit we took the field.
Straight from the opening kick off the finely tuned athletics thundered down the pitch to retrieve the ball, a couple of re cycles later and the opening score was had. The same result was achieved after the second kick off and the boys had their tails up. Then what for those involved was the best moment of the game, from the third kick off the Viagrabonds welsh terrier of a scum half (should that be corgi or pit pony) caught the ball (a first in the game) only to be smothered by a tireless Bangers pack who proceeded to march him backwards faster than he had ever gone forwards whilst at the same time cradling him gently so as not to hurt him .
After such a opening salvo the Viagrabonds where clearly shell shocked so the Bangers brought on the secret weapon; our 60 year old chairmen just to dishearten the opposition. The scoring went on relentlessly and by the final whistle the total was 36 to a valiant 0.The Weasel Cup was safely retained.
Next up was, as last year, against the Cairs Old Crocs from Australia.
After a good start and 2 tries in the basket, the game intensity drop a little bit and some unusual mistake like forward pass, loose ball, etc.. did happened
As in every misfortune there is always a good side, the occasion was given to Old Crocs bald prop to tell his last village stories about crocodile, kangaroos, kiwis, etc..during the scrummaging.
Luckily the experience of our old cavalry, help us to stay focus on the game and we finally managed to keep and then increase our advantage on the scoreboard to win the game 19 – 5
So on to the semi final of the cup against the Singapore Wanderer Wrinkles .This was where we found we had peaked to early and the Wanders scored 3 tries in quick secession before the bangers could get any momentum .We scored twice in the second half but too little too late as we were knocked out by a good side who where worthy winners 4 tries to 2.
In true Bangers spirit we lifted our heads and shared a couple of after match diet cokes with the opposition, then back to the Hotel for a warm down and await the arrival of the Bangers colts and take up our responsibilities of looking after the younger members of the touring party who might be missing mummy having not been away from home much..
We introduced the young ones to the delights of the beach bar so they too could discuss the line out calls and miss moves. Being slightly younger they soon got the hang of this and wanted to look for other training facilities, so we moved on to what turned out to be a popular street. Being the charitable club that we are we felt honour bound to entertain the crowd with a rendition of Singing In the Rain ,which if Gene Kelly had done it the same way would have won him an Oscar (and a prison sentence).
All too quickly again it was 9.45 pm and time for the young lads to go up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, be read their bed time stories and say their prayers in anticipation of the days to come .
Having been woken by the joyful singing of ‘Morning Has Broken’ at 7am by some those timeless Old Boys the Colts and friends got stuck into their fine and speedy breakfast before boarding the team helicopters. We arrived at the National Stadium and prepared like demons for our first game of the weekend against the Dubai Frogs. Just to really piss us off the cheeky French that they were did not even turn up! Rule 4 is the only thing that keeps our own garlic munchers in line and it looks like they could do with a similar approach in Dubai. This meant a first Game at the distant 12.30 against the Flying Muppets and a bit more lying about in mental preparation.
Starting a little sluggishly after our long break we found ourselves 7-5 down after a great game of rugby with Christo scoring a try and with a penalty as the last kick of the game. I called upon young Tom Smith to have a pop thinking it was a place kick before the ref informed us that it was a drop kick, bugger. He bravely stepped up but it failed to make the distance leaving us gutted but largely intact.
Next up were the Wanders A the recently crowned Champions of Singapore and a steep hill to climb. Climb it we did with an aggressive and dynamic performance from everyone who tackled like their lives depended on the result. A slip from John Rose when we were 5-0 down in a dangerous position confused their defense as he rose like a hippo from the mud to plop over under the posts which was then converted to give us a tremendous 7-5 victory. The Tour was on!
Our results and a given 28-0 win over those invisible French enabled us to squeak into the last 8 out of the 24 teams present and take our place in the Cup quarter final on the Sunday. How cool was that!
The Saturday evening dressed in our finest outfits with our makeup on we again took to the streets this time in splendid canoe formations. So surprised to see canoes the local populous were quite taken aback especially when the call went up to circle the wagons when years of formation dancing paid off.
The evening went past so quickly it all seems to blur into ones memory as such evenings do.
Having made the Cup our reward was a late 11am start which enabled us to take time to try paragliding and shark fishing before boarding the boring old helicopters back to a rapturous welcome at the stadium. How we longed for the simple pleasures of our tuk-tuks of the night before.
Our Cup encounter was against the Thai Legends who were the top seeds from Saturday and our player numbers were starting to look thin on the ground after losing Nicolas and Mossy to head wounds on the Saturday. The Legends failed to remember that we were not as quick as them and they missed several opportunities to spin the ball wide. Then they remembered! But did we give up? Never a great team try finished off by Tates put us back in the game then Christo added to the total leaving us 24-10 down by the final whistle. Just before the end Tates had also received a smack to the head which resulted in a lovely fountain of red before he made the Nurses tent.
Down to the Plate we went and an unsurprising match up with the Southerners. With numbers now at a very low point against a strong team we failed to get into 2nd gear eventually losing out 19-0.
And all that was left was the lure of beer beautiful beer and the pleasure of seeing one of the young lads that we sponsor for the next year.
A weary band of brothers headed off to the airport as a few brave souls stayed for just one more night of quiet Phuket nightlife!
Well done to those who played, those who watched and those who suffered!
Jeremy, Jeff and Tates XXX