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Inaugural Chiang Rai International Rugby 7s

It’s great to see rugby expanding in Northern Thailand with the inaugural Chiang Rai International Rugby 7s.
After a 5.30am start we arrived in Chiang Rai in good spirits, ready for a day of rugby. Due to a number of drop outs we travelled with 9 players but we were still confident that we were up to the task.
In the first game, we played Phayao Rugby Club and it seemed our legs were still on the bus. They pressed us hard and their scrum half took advantage of a couple of gaps to run a couple of tries and ending in defeat.
Second game was against tournament hosts, Chiang Rai Northern Bears. There’s a lot of history between the two side which made this a competitive encounter. Lions scored first to get a 7-0 lead but then then a great line was ran by, the long serving Bear, Karl to score between the posts. Fortunately for us the kick went wide and it ended 7-5.
After a quick lunch break, we were back at it in the semi-finals against MFU RUGBY CLUB in arguably the best game of the tournament. Last seasons we defeated then easily in 10s but this was a significantly improved side. They have clearly been working hard off the field as they ran hard and tackled even harder.
MFU scored first to make its 5-0 but then we returned to the favour to make it 5-5.
This riled up MFU who went 10-5 in front, just for us to score in the dying seconds of the game. Unfortunately the kick was unsuccessful and normal time ended 10-10. As this is was knockout rugby, it went to extra time with the golden point rule.
In the first 3 minutes of extra time we pressed forward but couldn’t break the solid MFU defence. Near the end of the half, Captain Jaime Pell elected to drop goal from a penalty which went agonisingly wide.
In the second 3 minutes, the belief was still there but Lanna were starting to tire. Unfortunately we got 2 yellow cards in quick succession. Firstly, Riu was judged to be offside from a tap and go and then Felix was given a yellow for back chat to leave us with 5 men against 7. However, this galvanised the guys and after great play by Jamie Pell, doing his best impression of captain fantastic, Tim ‘Flea Moss’ Andrews got us over the line.
The final loomed against Phayoa who had previously defeated the Cobras Rugby Club in a great contest. With our low numbers and injuries to both scrum halves we played the final with just 7 players. This showed with Phayao finishing the day undefeated and worthy winners.
Captain Jaime Pell said ‘Although we just missed first place today, all the boys showed hearts of champions. This is what makes us Lanna Lions!’
Coach Matt Levy said ‘Great tourney, the lads showed up and played fantastic. Atmosphere was great with everyone having a good time. Thanks to all the teams for putting on a show and congrats to the Phayao Rugby club, well deserved! We will come back gunning for them next time, though!’
Man of the Tournament: Jamie Pell
The final standings were:
1 Phayao
2 Lanna Lions
3 Chiang Mai Cobras
5 Chiang Rai Bears
6 Samaki 1
We’d like to thank Chiang Rai Northern Bears for a great day and Lonny Levi for his unwaiving commitment to Northern Thai rugby. Thank to Chiang Rai International Christian School for hosting.
Lastly thank you to all our Mens Sponsors The Moat House, Pongyang Jungle Coaster Zipline Camp&Resort, Chiang Mai Osteopathy,Omo Inc, Smash Daddy’s Burgers and Food4Thought for supporting us so we can make this happen.
Lanna Rugby Club’s next tournament is next month when the Lanna Lionesses travel to Bangkok to play in the Thai Rugby Union National 7s after qualify through Northern Thailand Rugby regionals 7s last week.