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Lanna Rugby Club History

Who We Are | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

Who Are

Lanna Rugby Club?


Tom Stubley foundered Lanna Rugby Club way back in 2018. However the story starts a little while earlier, in November 2017.

After living in CM for a couple of years already, Tom realised that, although there was a lot of sport played, he didn’t feel that same community connection that he felt when he used to play for HRUFC and Leodiensians back in England. The concept was simple, to generate weekly rugby for the locals to make like-minded friends and feel a part of something. 

The first issue was what to call the club? As land hadn’t been sought yet it didn’t seem right to call it after a city. This is how Lanna Rugby Club was born! Lanna is the old name for the North of Thailand. It seemed fitting to use the area name as it welcomed everyone in the surrounding area to become part of it, as well as taking into account the history of the place. 

The next Issue was the logo. After going over a few design ideas, the founder decided on a big lions head, to represent his home country. He chose to go with a bright blue, white and a hint of black, to stand out from the crowd. Since then, Lanna Rugby Club have been known for their bold design choices.

LRC Management | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

Once the logo was designed, Tom sourced the land, with the help of Zoe In Yellow. Lanna Rugby Club had managed to acquire some land out in Lamphun at Lamphun Technical College in June 2018. It was a huge help that they’d agreed to let us use the land for free! Without their help and support, this club may not have existed!

Between June and October the Founder went into overdrive marketing the club. Advertising in the local groups to attract potential rugby players. Whilst this process was  happening, Tom was contact by Dave McRichie! A fellow rugby player with a wealth of experience. 

From 2018 – 2020 Dave worked alongside Tom coaching the men’s and youth players before forming the Chiang Mai Cobras, giving LRC yet another club to play against. 


Club News | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

Finally the first practice session was upon both Dave and Tom! After all the marketing and running round, would they get any players down to the ground? I mean, it was 40 minutes drive from Chiang Mai where most expats and Thais, who knew the game, lived. 

Incredible! a turn out of 6! This included Ben (middle top), the renegade Sports Bar owner, a Frenchman who came down for the crack ….. and two players, little did they know, would become the bedrock of the club: Louis Stanton (second from left) and Phil Gwyther (second from right).

The first practice was a success, however things were not to be so stable thereafter. Week in week the coaches would head to the grounds every Saturday, wait two hours then head back. Sometimes on their todd with nobody to coach. Alas, if it wasn’t for this, there’d be no regularity, and in turn the club wouldn’t have grown. 

A brave new world | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

Whilst we utilised the Lamphun Tech field, we stumbled upon Tawan (Dtun) Kiatngamphom (Left). At a spritely age of 16, with little to no English, he saw us throwing the ball about and wanted to get involved. He was a great addition the the squad we were building. Soon to become a tackling master and try scoring legend. 

As we moved into 2019 the rag tag squad that had being assembled were starting to resemble a rugby team. As the season progressed, Tom contacted a local club, Chiang Rai Bears. Lonny, the founder, was excited to host the first ever match against Lanna Rugby Club. 

As Soon as the fixture had been arranged it was time to go scouting for the first ever LRC kit sponsor. 


Jonas, who was part of the Lanna Lions, was kind enough to offer sponsorship from his company CM Telecom. This kit went on to be used for one and a half more seasons with CM Telecom proudly emblazoned on the front of the patchwork kit.  

Once the players became aware of the match ahead in Chiang Rai it was all systems go. The players worked hard to form some sort of cohesion on the pitch. 

Before the Lions knew it, it was time to gather ourselves and head for Chiang Rai, to face our first opponents, the Chiang Rai Bears. 

It was a wonderful occasion for all involved. The Bears put the team through their paces. In the end it was 24-22 to Chiang Rai Bears. None the less, it was a fantastic time! Lonny managed to put on a decent spread for the players to get stuck into after the match had wrapped up. 

Shortly after everything had been wrapped up, the Lions packed up and headed back to CM having competed in their first ever match! As it was in February, we called it for the season as the weather was becoming increasingly hot and smoky. 


The vision was to create weekly rugby,  so over the off season, Tom had worked tirelessly to form a league between four teams in Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai All Stars
Prince Royal’s College
Chiang Mai University
Lanna Rugby Club

All the matches were to be played at the PRC and CMU ground. 
Kit, the referee and now Head of Rugby in Northern Thailand, has been very helpful in the development of rugby in CM and was more than happy to help with the league.

The league was set to take place through August, with each team playing two matches each week for a total of four weeks. 

Once these had been confirmed, the men’s team quickly got back to work, practicing drills week in week out on Saturdays. 

After the league had finished, Tom reached out to Lonny (from CR Bears) and Nor (from CM All Stars) to form another competition to see the club through to the end of the season. The Tri Club Cup. 

This took place from October to February. The Lions Put in a massive effort to bear both the All Stars and Bears to be crowned the winners of the Tri Club Cup. 

In January/February time in 2020 Lanna Rugby Club made the move to start a grassroots program. George and Pan who join the first session went on to become huge parts of the club in the years to come. 

After the league had finished, Tom reached out to Lonny (from CR Bears) and Nor (from CM All Stars) to form another competition to see the club through to the end of the season. The Tri Club Cup. 

This took place from October to February. The Lions Put in a massive effort to bear both the All Stars and Bears to be crowned the winners of the Tri Club Cup. 

In January/February time in 2020 Lanna Rugby Club made the move to start a grassroots program. George and Pan who join the first session went on to become huge parts of the club in the years to come. It was held at The Score, formerly known as Sheryle’s. This became the Lions local watering hole. 


Like the rest, this was a season of change and growth. 

Lanna Rugby Club resumed practice in July 2020 to prepare for what would be a gruelling and exciting 10s league. The season this year was made up of  four teams like the season prior, however PRC ad dropped out, as had All Stars. The teams replacing them were Thailand National Sports University (TNSU) and PAYAP University. 

The league took the Lions all over CM. To places such as San Patong and Sank Kamphaeng, as well as CMU where the matches were played previously. 

2020 Tens League Lions Vs CMU | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

The Lions were an unstoppable force this season, putting on valiant displays week on week. This year the league was four months long going from August through to November for the winter break. The competition was fierce, but the Lions kept battling on, retaining the No.1 position in the league. 

Whilst the league was going on, LRC visited a ground in San Kamphaeng that the PAYAP team were using as their home ground. After a chat with Blue, the PAYAP manager, the LRC chairman had won round Blue to set up a meeting with the Ajarn at the school there. In October 2021 Lanna Rugby Club said goodbye to Lamphun Tech, moving closer to CM, making Kanta Anusorn School in San Kamphaeng their stomping ground!

2020 Tens League Lions Vs Payap | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

Even though San Kamphaeng was still a bit of a distance out of Chiang Mai, it was a damn sight closer than Lamphun. For the original members, it was a sigh of relief. The new ground was fantastic. It had bleechers, cover from the rain and sun, toilets and storage facilities. It was perfect!

As soon as LRC had moved grounds, Sheryle’s decided to sponsor the club with a new kit to celebrate the new ground. Even Mike, the bar owner, came down to make an appearance. Top bloke.  

2020 Tens League Lions Vs TNSU | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

As soon as LRC moved grounds we started pushing youth rugby much more so, now that we were closer to the city. As this was being promoted on social media, we had got a lot of responses enquiring and slowly but surely LRC started to acquire grassroots players. The foundations of the club were beginning to come. 

In the efforts of beginning a strong youth rugby campaign, Lanna Rugby Club was contacted by Kids Ark Foundation (KAF). House For Hope is a branch of KAF, they are an organisation here who help look after children when the parents need to go out working. 

After a brief back and forth, the club welcomed House For Hope down, managed by Annie and Ying. Two phenomenal women who are always happy to bring the children down week in week out. Without this commitments from House For Hope, the youth rugby wouldn’t have started and continued like it does today. 

Whilst the 10’s league was still in full swing, Lanna Lions were asked to enter the Thailand National 7’s competition. A 7’s competition is fast paced, for old heads like the majority of players at LRC, it was quite daunting. Alas, the club rocked up to Suthep Stadium for the fun of it all. The Lanna Lions put their best foot forwards and got stuck in with the festivities. Even in the searing heat we put in some good performances, Although not enough to beat the likes of Phayao who were a very well drilled team. Even though LRC came dead last, we got stuck in, played with heart and established ourselves as the club to watch out for in the future. 

The end of November soon rolled around. The league was coming to a climatic finish with Lanna Rugby Club and Payap battling it out in the finals. The Lions had played a stormer of a season. Even though LRC was on top of the league, it all boiled down tot his last match. 

Payap came out firing. It was a very heated contest. Unfortunately, the Lions lost one of the only games this season. I’d be lying to say it wasn’t devastating. However, this was the second ever league season, bring rugby players from all over CM together. It was a huge spectacle that celebrated rugby at it’s best. 

The season came to a close with a little Christmas shindig at Sheryle’s before the month long winter break. 

In January and February, as no matches had been organised, the four teams in the league decided to form a Northern Thailand team. By February, the NTR team was ready to play it’s first match against Lanna Rugby Club. It was a fun event, with a lot of comradery throughout. 

One this match had been wrapped up, the league was over. Lanna Rugby Club went on to have it’s annual End of Season Do, hosted at Sheryle’s. It was a great night. Not only did we have the formal awards, but the Captain’s awards were introduced too. A very entertaining night to round off the 2020/21 season.  


Lanna Rugby Club started with a BANG! In June, for the first time, the club held a recruitment drive for the first ever women’s team, aptly named The Lanna Lionesses. The women’s team was headed up by Erin who currently managed the youth rugby along side Tom. 

It was a very successful night, signing up a bunch of women who just wanted to get stuck in and get involved with all the club fun!

2021 Recruitment Day | Lanna Rugby Club Chiang Mai

A couple of weeks later, Youth and Senior rugby practice resumed for the 2021/22 season. San Kamphaeng was a buzzing. As with every other season prior, this was no different, seeing new players join the LRC ranks to be apart of the coming season. 

Not only did the player numbers increase, but the management also grew. Matt Hirst, who hails from Newcastle, UK, reached out. He moved to CM and straight away established himself as the new Men’s Head coach. Together, Matt and Erin both got the seniors players fired up. 

Later on in the season Paul Zhang became a new addition to the coaching staff for the Youth rugby. Along side Tom and Erin, the youth players finally started to grasp the game and worked on positional play towards the end of the year. 

Unfortunately, due to COVID -19 the 10’s league failed to come to fruition. However, Dave who was a part f LRC for the first two seasons branched out to form CM Cobras. Almost immediately they became our biggest rivals. 

Three match fixtures were set up and played against them. Every match was fierce with a lot of passion and pride on display. It’s safe to say that whenever the Lions face up against the Cobras, the matches are fueled with high adrenaline, with enough blood shed to stock a donation clinic. 

At December the club had it’s annual Christmas party before the break. 

January was a special month for the club as this is the first time we had a team from outside Chiang Mai come to visit. Bangkok Bangers and the Bangkok Belles were kind enough to come and challenge the Lions and Lionesses. 

This was a huge day. At the pitch Bruce, the women’s team sponsor, put on a BBQ for the occasion. The Lions Vs Bangers match was incredibly intense. The bangers are a formidable side that’ didn’t go easy on us. The score line was huge, they piled a load of tries past us. However they were gentlemen who were just as interested as making friends as they were to play the game itself.

After the Lions match, it was now time for the debut of the Lanna Lionesses. The Belles held no punches and showed our women how to play the sort. , however the Lionesses still managed to score a try past them. The Lionesses did them and the club proud, it was a fantastic display of rugby from a group of ladies that, for the majority, were playing their first ever match of rugby!

The comradery continued down at Sheryle’s. LRC put on a feed before some fun awards were given out between the teams. Later the players went out on force for a highly social night on the tiles. 

To round off the season, the Lions managed to sort out another trip up north to Chiang Rai Bears. It was great to reunite with the Bears after so long. After a great match, all the players headed out to the Bears local for ‘a couple’ of drinks with Lonny and the rest of the Bears players. 

The final match of the season was played between a team that Josh, a local rugby legend, threw together just so there could be a little more rugby played before the end of the season. 


Lanna Rugby Club Season 2021-2022 | Lions Vs Bears

Again, once was all said and done, LRC put on a fantastic End of Season Do. Now the Grassroots teams were more established, Erin and Tom awarded the youth rugby awards during the day, before the seniors rocked up for their awards later in the evening. It was a great way to finish off what was an incredible season.



As June rolled round, preseason started back up welcoming back all the old faces of the youth, men’s and women’s team, along with a few new ones too! This year Matt Hirst took on more responsibilities, coaching the men’s and women’s team. Maddie Barry stepped up and took a more managerial role of the women’s team also. Nong, Paul and Tom continued pushing the youth rugby. 

This season saw our first ever youth player progress from the youth to open age, Pan. He was a breath of fresh air and got stuck in straight from the off. 

Maddie had done some fantastic work over June-August recruiting a whole bunch of fresh blood that would soon become a formidable force in the months to come. The Men’s team had grown too, before we knew it this years CM10s league was knocking on the door, however the players had put in a huge effort and were ready for anything that was thrown at them. 

The Lanna Lions put up a good fight as the league started with earnest. However, as soon as the league had begun, a touring team that goes by the name of Rhinos, were in Chiang Mai. A round robin was played between the Rhinos, Lions and Cobras. The Rhinos were a ‘tour de force’, with some big lads in the mix. It was a great day for rugby in Thailand. 

September moved into October. The Lions kept battling hard in the league whilst the new players in the Lionesses squad were slowly but surely getting to grips with the game. They were more composed than the year prior, with a hunger to win. 

October was a massive month for the youth rugby. The National 7s tournament was held at Suthep Stadium and this year, finally, the U14 Boys and U14 Girls had enough players to enter. What a day it was! The girls team put out a huge performance, making darting runs when in possession of the ball. The boys team fought hard, managing to even turn over a few of the Prince Royal College scrums!! The parents banded together to get a feed in for the players. They did the club proud. This was a far cry from where the club began back in 2018. 

This year Matt Hirst had been slowly working alongside Erin, who now had departed LRC to set up The Chiang Mai Hedgehogs Touch Rugby Club, to form a new touch rugby school competition. The vision is to help draw more players in to the rugby scene which was aptly named the Chiang Mai Touch Rugby Tournament.  

SIBS, Lanna international School, Varee International and Lanna Rugby Club youth players well all in it to win it on a first for the inaugural tournament. Loads of children from all over CM came to play in this fun lively event. SIBS came away with the U12s trophy, where as the Mighty Lanna Youth managed to come away with the U14s tourny cup! It was a raging success for the Club and for the rugby community in CM. We’re all looking forwards to next year’s tournament!

All of a sudden it was November, the 10’s league had drawn to a close with the Lions coming in third place, just behind Maejo Rugby Club. Now it was time for the Lions and Lionesses to make their competition debuts at the CM10s International Tournament. 

2 days of back to back rugby. What a spectacle. The Lionesses went hard. They were the underdogs, but no one expected what happened next! The Lionesses blew away the Bangkok Belles in one of their 7s matches. Maddie lead the team through a phenomenal display of grit, strength and organisation. 

The Lions went hard, their best performances coming against CM All Stars and Colombo Synergy who had travelled from Sri Lanka to play. Even thought eh Lions and Lionesses didn’t come out on top, it was a very fun weekend, a lot of friends were made and networking between clubs. 

Once more, the first half of the season had finished. All facets of Lanna Rugby Club had achieved so much already this season; the club was more well known with in South East Asia, every team in the club had played a few games of rugby and all the players were tighter as a unit. Now it was time to celebrate and kick back at the annual Lanna Rugby Club Christmas Party! 

First the youth players celebrated on the rooftop of our new club house, The Moat House. There was plenty of mince pies to go around. This year LRC had reached out, and even though he was on a tight schedule, Santa graced us with his presence, chatting with the youth players and giving them all Christmas presents. 6pm rolled round and it was time to welcome the seniors. As per, it was a pretty raucous night. Santa even stayed and joined in the festivities!! What a great way to end 2022!

After the holidays everyone came back fresh faced and ready to enjoy the winddown towards the end of the season. In January and February the Lanna Lions traditionally use these months to enjoy some travelling games. This year did not disappoint. The first fixture was down at Bangkok Bangers. What a great outing for the lads, even though we lost, the Lions still managed to put 4 tries past them and held the score line to a four try win which is saying something against a formidable side. 

In February the Lions then headed North to Chiang Rai. After continuous discussion between the Founders of both clubs, it was finally agreed upon that each year both teams would enter into a fixture known as The Battel of the Beasts! The Lions put on a great display and the Bears gave as good as they got. Alas, there could be only one victor which just so happened to be the Lanna Lions! Our first piece of silverware to put on the mantle! 

Just as soon as the Lions were back, the Lionesses were off. However there was something very exciting afoot. After the CM10s tournament in November, LRC, Hanoi Dragons and Siam Gekkos got to talking. A collaborative team was formed, the likes of which nobody had seen before, The Viet Chang. This newly formed touring women’s team put on a massive display at the Bangkok Tens doing every club involved proud. Loads of rugby, loads of fun, and of course, loads of drinking!!

Now a week into March, the rugby for Lanna Rugby Club has finished once more for the season. It was once again, time to celebrate the achievements of the 2022-2023 season. It was a fantastic day, celebrating each and every player that had graced the pitch for LRC over the last year. What a way to end the season. Food, drinks, comradery. This is what the club was founded on.

Every new season for Lanna Rugby Club begins in June. As the club has becoming bigger, an annual AGM is held in May, to prepare for the season to come. This was the second of it’s kind for LRC. However a change had come. Tom Stubley, who has been the driving force of the club since it’s inception had made the decision it was time for the club to walk on it’s own two feet. It was a bitter sweet night for the club to see Tom Stubley step down as the Chairman, relinquishing all duties. 

However, this was also the beginning of a new era. Nobody wanted the title of Chairman as they were big shoes to fill, alas Matt Hirst committed to taking the reins as the Director of Rugby with a team of management to work closely along side him:
Grassroots Officer – Thomas Pas-Plein
Women’s Team Manager – Maddie Barry
Men’s Captain – David Smith
Club Treasurer – Brave Harn
Club Social Secretary – Jo Elliott
Social Media Officer – Grace Gamache

It’s been a long road from where the humble beginning of Lanna Rugby Club started to where it is now. 

Now it is time for the real party to start! LRC 2.0!