16 teams rendezvoused early on Saturday morning at the Horseshoe Point Resort, a cracking place to host such a tournament. The pitch was in great condition, and despite warnings of heavy rain, the weather couldn't have been better.
The Pattaya Panthers, hosts, put out 2 squads, their 'A' team the Panthers, and their 'B' side, the Exiles. I was lucky enough to play for both teams, as well as put in an appearance for Kaysies Crusaders, the team formed to honour the late Chris Kays, the personal highlight of the weekend for me.
The Panthers had a successful tournament, winning twice and drawing once on the first day to be entered into the cup running. The Exiles were not as successful, but with some fantastic spells of rugby, and from a side made up nearly entirely of new faces, a bright future looks set for the Exiles.
There were very high standards of rugby throughout, despite the various late night tales, and the organisers emphasis on social rugby. The Thai teams looked sharp; whilst walking from one side of the ground to other you would often pass by practicing Thai sides, who are very attuned to 10's style rugby. Despite not being as physically imposing as some of the expat sides, their speed and tenacity more than make up for this. Their tackling is often superb, swiping your legs out from underneath you, leaving larger opponents with only one way to go.
As I left early on Sunday, I'm still unsure as to the overall winners, my guess would be either: the Thai Legends or the Thai Barbarians, possibly the Southerners playing out of Bangkok. If somebody is reading this and knows, please leave a comment.
There are far too many moments to mention, so I will let the photo's do the talking (view all pics here)
The whole experience has been win-win for me, not only have I had a great weekend and met some great people, I have also found myself a new team. From now on I will be travelling down to spend long sunny weekends in Pattaya, meeting with the Panthers to play every few weeks or so.
What a lucky sod I am. (pic top: Pattaya Panthers 2009 Chris Kays Tournament. pic middle top: Hard tackles from the Thai Young Blood's. pic middle bottom: A Pattaya Panther struggles to shake free. pic bottom: A familiar Pattaya Exile getting taken down by 2 Kaysie Crusaders)
Well done Dannyboy, clear winner in yesterdays challenge, despite all the whingeing. Iced coffee is easy to make (basically expresso, how you like it in a cup, poured over lots of ice), so here is how to make a Thai iced tea, useful for those long, lazy summers in UK (ha ha).
In Thailand you would order it as 'cha-yen' (tea cold) and it's generally made from strongly-brewed black tea, lob in a star anise if you have one, and a little crushed tamarind seed (again not essential).
To make the tea really good, you use a fair amount of sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of condensed milk, mix well, and pour over a tall glass of ice cubes. Once that's all in, a fair amount of evaporated milk is poured over the top of the ice, giving the tea it's creamy appearance.
Thai iced tea - flippin' gorgeous. Dannyboy - yours is at the TEE Coffee Shop waiting for you, so you are free to collect it as soon as you like!