Jakarta – “Under strength but under way”
The tour started with JD, Freezer, Slow Joe and the NightMaher meeting at Tokyo station in the afternoon of Friday 12 February to catch the Narita Express. Things immediately became lively with Slow Joe’s declaration that he would be continuing his stance on not drinking that he has undertaken this season. This came as quite a shock to the NightMaher and the trip out to Narita involved a detailed discussion which touched on issues of sexuality (“You are a homo”), virility (“You are a soft c0ck”) and the difference between mens rea and actus reus (“I don’t care if you don’t drink, I am going to hold you down and pour it down your throat”).
Vicar joined us at Narita airport and the five of us boarded the Friday night flight to Bangkok. The plane ride saw an incredible consumption of alcohol (a trend for plane journeys that was to continue throughout the tour) and was notable for the almost unbelieveable patience of the psychologist from Alabama in front of us who had already been travelling for 24 hours yet somehow managed to put up with us for the entire journey.
We stayed the night at accommodation close to Bangkok airport and were able to catch up with Colin “Zoo” Naughten who kindly brought out a new set of YCAC’s traditional party shirts. Early the next morning we flew to Jakarta where we were joined by Calver (flying straight in from Singapore) and met at the airport by a bus and Franny “The Tranny” Holdaway-Howard, a representative from the rugby section of ISCI, YCAC’s sister club in Jakarta. A short two hour bus ride later we were at our hotel (an opulent Novotel) where we dumped our bags and met up with Rhino and Fossil (who had flown in earlier). After grabbing a quick Chinese lunch (ideal pre-match rugby food) we then got back on the bus for another short two hour ride to ISCI.
Our game against ISCI was 12-a-side with us borrowing some of Jakarta’s Japanese rugby club to fill up our team. The game was reffed by Vicar and played over two 12 minutes halves. It ended as a 5-all draw, setting a precedent for low-scoring matches that was to continue throughout the tour. YCAC’s sole try was scored by one of our Jakarta Japanese imports but Rhino was the star of the show for YCAC at flyhalf. All things considered a draw was probably a pretty good result for us. After playing through a Japanese winter on an artificial field we found switching to humid temperatures and a muddy pitch quite a challenge.
After an aftermatch function with ISCI it was time to get back on the bus to sample Jakarta night-life with our tour guides Franny the Tranny and one-time YCAC player Charles “Chuck” Ball.
Phnom Penh – “Trial by fire”
After a day recovering in Jakarta we flew to Phnom Penh (via Bangkok) on Monday 15 February. We were joined in transit at Bangkok by SS, Bulla Bulla, Wee Willie and Ian the Aussie.
On the morning of Tuesday 16 February we visited the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21). In the afternoon we played a 15-a-side match at Phnom Penh’s colossal Old Stadium. Our opponents were the Sisowath Knights, an expat team based in Phnom Penh, although players from the PSE Garudas, one of the other Phnom Penh clubs, joined both teams to make up the numbers. The game was played over four 12 minute quarters with Vicar reffing the first and third quarters and a local Cambodian ref controlling the second and fourth quarters. Despite losing 5-nil we actually played pretty well, creating a number of chances to score but just not being able to finish. Rhino was again in fine form at flyhalf and captain NightMaher led by example.
After the match the Sisowath Knights put on an enjoyable aftermatch function at Sharkeys bar. Unfortunately one tourist enjoyed it rather too much and committed the cardinal sin of oversleeping and being late to breakfast the next morning. His punishment, carried out at Phnom Penh’s famous Foreign Correspondent’s Club, was an ancient rugby test of speed under pressure involving a beer, some toilet paper and a lighter.
Siem Reap – “Pearls before swine”
Continuing our ‘hit and run’ policy of not staying more than two days in any one place we proceeded from the Foreign Correspondent’s Club to Phnom Penh airport and made the short trip to Siem Reap, a tourist town located very close to the Angkor Wat temples. On Thursday 18 February we visited Angkor Wat and, although spectacular, the most interesting part of the day was the vast number of tourists who ignored the temples and instead preferred taking photos of a bunch of rugby players in party shirts and Tui sombreros!
Bangkok – “Not much between despair and ecstasy”
After a couple of days relaxing in Siem Reap we flew back to Bangkok on Friday 19 February for the final part of the tour. At this stage Vicar departed but our ranks were bolstered by Buffalo Butt, Flash, the Stallard-Fahy-Watkins’, Brutus, Crowbar and, last but not least, Masivo (who was on his own “One Night in Bangkok” tour).
After the traditional pre-tournament dinner at the German restaurant YCAC woke up at a reasonable hour on a Saturday morning ready for another crack at the Bangkok 10′s. Unfortunately we opened our 2010 campaign with a 15-7 loss to the Southerners, a Bangkok expat team, with Flash scoring and converting our only try.
We faired better in our next match, gaining a 5-0 victory over XV Gaulois, a French team based in Singapore, courtesy of a try by Noah but we could not get another win in the pool stages, going down 5-0 to St Patricks Exiles, a Sydney club team, in our last match of the day.
On the Sunday we lost our Cup Round of 16 match 7-0 to the Pakuranga Pythons, an Auckland club team and eventual Cup finalists, and then our Plate quarterfinal 14-7 to the Southerners. We actually scored first in this match (with Noah converting his own try) and by virtue of a rule that in case of a draw it is the team that scores first that progresses we were looking good until the Southerners made a break in the final play of the game and we were unable to run them down. With this tournament coming at the end of the tour it was probably always going to be difficult to repeat our success of the previous two years. However, results aside, we still had a great time at the tournament and in Bangkok.
After the traditional game of ‘slaps’ by the pool at our hotel on Sunday afternoon most tourists departed for Bangkok airport to catch the overnight flight back to Tokyo. As might be expected, it was a tired bunch of rugby players who arrived at Narita on the morning of Monday 22 February!
Many thanks to Freezer and JD, our “Lightweight Amateur Tour Organizers”, for all their work in putting everything together and running an unforgettable tour.
JD (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Freezer (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Rhino (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Fossil (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Calver (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Slow Joe (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
NightMaher (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Vicar (Jakarta / Phnom Penh / Siem Reap)
SS (Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Bulla Bulla (Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Wee Willie (Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Ian the Aussie (Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Bangkok)
Tight Arse (Bangkok)
The Stallard-Fahy-Watkins’ (Bangkok)