After years of the local boys playing touch rugby in Phuket, Kandy RFC the Sri Lankan Champions arrival with 12 Internationals marked the birth of contact rugby on the island. Despite the Vagabonds combining 9 Nations of dubious talent we suffered an auspicious defeat - but the Vagabond legend was born.
The club leapt (crawled) from strength to strength, began hosting games and even hosted an International 15's. After a year we were awarded with our first victory over some crap Bangkok side (Corsairs).
A transient squad resulted in awesome victories and auspicious defeats (somewhat like Wales), but with tours to Hat Yai, Bangkok and Manila the club emerged as an entity (rather than force) within the Thai Rugby Union.
Dulwich International College provided us with a regular pitch, as well as supplying us new players. Then came sponsorship from the Phuket Gazette which provided a name change to the Phuket Gazettes. Thankfully they saw the error of their ways and withdrew sponsorship, allowing us to ditch the world's silliest name and revert to being the Phuket Vagabonds (the newspaper only ever reports games we lose........)
Presently we are aiming to strengthen our pool of players by reducing reliance on rotational expats who are always pissed, bar owners who are always pissed and press ganged tourists who are also, always pissed.
Phuket rugby has continued to develop (sobering up at least) and with an influx of young fit South African teachers, yachting crews and general surfer dudes among others the Vagabonds have become a side to be reckoned with who can not only lead off the pitch but also on it and the 2015 victory in our home tournament during our 21st anniversary year at the Phuket International Rugby Tens will be remembered for many a year by those who were there. A permanent feature for both Thai and Asian teams to defeat...erm visit.
Supplied by Ben Hennessy and a spell checker
The Phuket 10s started life as a 4 team 15 a side tournament held at Surakul Stadium in Phuket town between the Singapore Bucks, The Australian Airforce from Butterworth, A team from Dubai and the Vagabonds. With the practicalities of a 15s comp and the growth of Rugby 10s in the region it made sense to make the switch so in 1998 the first Phuket 10s was played with 5 teams competing for honours with the Hong Kong Football Club the winners.
Since that auspicious day the tournament has grown in strength annually until now when we are at the maximum number of teams we can handle. Such was the success of the tournament and with the advancing age of the local funding vagabonds players it was decided to introduce a vets tournament to guarantee the old gits a game. So with the introduction of the Coffin Dodgers vets Tournament in 2006 the tournament became a 3 day event. Over the course of the years we have also included youth development and women's rugby.
With so many teams returning on a regular basis, many teams annually, it produces a unique atmosphere and although there is no quarter given on the pitch old friendships are renewed and new ones made off it.
With the introduction of Tour Virgin Beauty Pageant on the Saturday night the club revelry went up a notch and now it is such that it is as important to win the Tour Virgin as it is to win the tournament.
Asia Center Foundation
In 2002 the event teamed up with the Asia Center Foundation to try and raise funds to help Roelien Muller and her team with the work they were doing with the slum children in Phuket. After the traumatic tsunami in 2004 we moved up a gear and helped the ACF set up a scholarship fund where they would run the day to day and we through the Phuket 10s would attempt to raise funds. It has been a resounding success with the generosity of teams, supporters and individuals helping disadvantaged children to an education that changes lives. The program has just celebrated the 10th anniversary at the 2015 tens and is making a real differenceto so many young lives.
Bangers On Bikes
Bob Pearson of Bangkok Bangers fame also wanted to do more so he roped in a few friends to do a cycle from Bangkok to Phuket to raise funds for the Asia Center Foundation. The journey was epic and very nearly killed them but another fund raising idea was born . They are now into their 6th year and have gone international with the last two rides being Vietnam to Bangkok and Penang to Phuket. A brilliant effort which helps the Asia Center Foundations building fund & a presentation ceromony is held at the Phuket 10s every year