Words by Ben Hubbard + Photos courtesy of Touch Rugby Bangkok
As my alarm went off at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning and I grudgingly pulled my weary old limbs out of bed, I wondered if I’d made the wisest of choices signing up to play in the Social Annual Mixed International Touch Tournament Thailand (SAMITTT, thank goodness for short). Basically, Touch Rugby, all day… in the sun.
Held every year by the Southerner’s sports club in Bangkok, Touch Rugby (or commonly known just as “Touch”), is one of the biggest social sporting competitions for expats in Southeast Asia. The appeal of the game lies in the fact is that is fast-paced, easy to pick up (essentially you just need to be tagged to stop running with the ball) and, primarily, the main reason – it’s mixed. Touch is one of the few competitive sports to have equal numbers of women and men on the same team, and moreover, women are seen as the brains behind most teams, driving the ball up the field and engineering good field position. It makes a difference from playing sport with just testosterone-pumped men flying around shouting and complaining for 90 minutes (I should know – I play football every week!).
Contested by teams from Thailand, Singapore, and Myanmar this year, the SAMITTT tournament held at Bangkok Patana School annually is in it’s the 10th year now and is a great mix of foreigners who have been brought up more familiar with the game and locals who have since embraced it. Indeed, the powerhouse teams of the SE Asia circuit are from Singapore, who as I found out after being bamboozled by them in the first game, are on a different level and play it religiously down there.
Put together randomly, our team Southerners Springboks, performed admirably well – recovering from a few teething problems at the start (plus me dropping the ball a few times) to defeat all opponents in our remaining four games to surge home and win the plate competition.
The great thing about this competition is that even if you are defeated, there is another match and mini competition for you to play in and every team is guaranteed at least five matches over the course of the day. In saying that, the mighty Bucks from Singapore didn’t need any reprieves or losses to recover from as they fought off all challengers to win the overall competition.
More importantly, though, it was a day of competitiveness yet plenty of laughter and enjoyment. Team spirit was built and foes on the field soon became new friends over a few beers afterward. The after party and drinks took place in the Clubhouse on Sukhumvit Soi 23 and went on well into the night. A fantastic, fun-filled day, definitely worth the climb out of bed in the morning … but by then, definitely ready for the climb back into it. 🙂