When travelling internationally it’s common to receive as many vaccinations as recommended by a local travel clinic.
Unfortunately for the University of Calgary men’s touring rugby team there is no vaccine to protect against pissed-off Thai competitors.
A 35 person contingent from the University of Calgary Rugby Football Club will be departing from Calgary International Airport Wed., Feb. 14 headed for Thailand to play in the Bangkok International Ten’s tournament. The tournament consists of nearly 30 different teams. The Dinos are entering two teams and are the only North American teams entered into the tournament, which runs Feb. 16-18. The competitive team will consist of veteran Dinos players while the social team will consist of younger players.
The UCRFC has been pressured to go play in the Bangkok International Ten’s tournament for well over three years, so it was decided the next tour must be to Thailand to play in the tournament. Head coach Simon Chi explained that their hook-up in Thailand was a former Canadian National Team prop named Eddie Evans. Evans owns Extreme Rugby Wear, a clothing company based out of Thailand.
“Touring is a very important, and extremely fun, aspect of rugby culture,” said coach Wade Belbin. “It allows players the opportunity to travel and be a part of a wide community, virtually anywhere in the world.”
Although numerous tours have been made to Vancouver and Edmonton each year, the UCRFC makes it a goal to try and coordinate at least one international tour every three years. The last international tour was to the United Kingdom in 2003, where the Dinos played three games against three different English clubs.
Safety is the key word for the tour while almost everything else is secondary, even planned events. No team members will be present at any functions if the function is not deemed safe and fit for the entire team.
Although a package was sent out by coach James Beck, filled with good humoured rules, there is still nothing funny about potential bombings or turning a twelve-day tour into a twelve-year prison sentence. Absolutely no one wants to go to jail in Thailand.
However, safety doesn’t mean the planned events can’t be fun. Angus Campbell, Belbin and Beck spent hours of planning to make Thailand one of the best experiences of the rugby players’ lives.
“Even though the tour is only 10 days long, we’ll be packing a lot into that short time,” Belbin said. “We’ll also be experiencing as much of the Thai culture as we can. We’ve planned visits to a few Buddhist temples, the royal palace in Bangkok, as well as riding elephants and taking some time to relax on the beach.”
Time on the beach is exactly what many players need after six gruelling months of classes and a weekend tournament which includes touring squads from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Three days will be spent on the beach in Rayong, 220 kilometres from Bangkok on the country’s eastern coast.
Canadians are known almost virtually as a hard-hitting nation when playing in international competition, so many teams will be looking to see how well the Dinos do against them.
“There is a big target on us at the tournament because we are the only team from the Americas,” Beck said. “We have a lot to prove to the rugby community worldwide but also to university teams in British Columbia like the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia who have turned down invitations to play us. By performing well at the Bangkok Ten’s we hope to make a major statement back here in Canada.”