by Don D. Dinkums
“Next games coming on are Cobrats vs Tanglin Chiefs on Pitch 13, Dragons A vs Komodos on Pitch 14.” Blares the speaker with a twangy Australian accent. 2 Singaporean teams, 1 from Jakarta and us from Malaysia.
Coach Dillan calls out to the U9 kids to get ready which means mouth guards and head gear. As the parents fuss about helping their kids get prepared and drinking water (the heat was intense, hydration was very important!), their coaches Dillan and SP have a quick chat to confirm starting line-up, substitution patterns and respective side-line coaching duties.
They then call the kids together for a last minute pep talk, you could hear the key words “Tackle Low, Support your teammates, Play Hard! Leave everything on the field, 110%!”
The horn blares signalling the end of current games. Cobrats got next.
It’s quite a big deal for the Cobrats to come to this tournament. For a program only in its’ 3rd year, it has grown and now sent 5 teams to Singapore to play in the Centaurs International Mini & Youth Rugby Tournament. Though a majority of teams competing were from Singapore, there were teams from Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and from as far as Sri Lanka. The level of competition was high and the club was keen to make a good account of itself. Not just be tourists and take in the sights.
Dylan runs straight and takes the touch. “Touch 2!” Quickly passes it to Thilesh who makes a quick step wrong footing his defenders. They quickly catch-up and close him down. “TOUCH 3!” Calls the referee. He then pops the ball to Adam. With defenders out of position, Adam zooms around leaving them to watch the studs of his boots. He jumps the final 2 meters for the diving try for the 3rd try to put away the other team. The Under 7s finished the last day of the competition by winning all 3 matches. They finished the tournament with 4 wins 2 losses and 1 draw.
“Coach, Coach, we won our last 3 games! My legs are so tired!” Says Adam to one of the coaches. Team Manager/Parent Rachel couldn’t stop but gush over her players. Not just gush but also out-fussing the parents to make sure the kids were probably watered. Head Coach Darryl’s body language shows he’s pleased. Eyes covered by his Shades but his smile tells everything.
It was no easy thing to do to go on an international tour albeit Singapore. On-site logistics of ensuring there’s water, food and ice for about 60 kids (6 years to 16 years old) and adults (coaches and parents) was quite a task. Especially when there’s the issue of how to pay for these things as the club could only afford so much. Take note that the exchange rate and everything just a little bit more expensive! However, there’s a lesson to be learnt that teamwork extends beyond the players and coaches.
“Let’s go, pack it up! We’ll come back again tomorrow morning.” Calls out a fellow to his workers. They were carting 2 large ice boxes (now empty) away to their truck. They’ll bring it back tomorrow morning filled with drinks and ice enough for the whole tour. Another fellow states “Come collect the lunch at 10.30am.It’ll be packed and ready for you then”
Thanks to Singapore based relatives (Cobra family in Singapore☺), the parents have come through yet again providing that extra needed support. Cue the words “Anything is Possible!”
“Wake up Mel!” Shouts Coach Dillan
“You can do it Mel!” calls out Coach Shara.
“They’re not listening!” Calls out Coach Mel. She’s doing her best out there to guide her 5 year old kids in the U6 game category. First time out in a game at an International Tournament, Coach Mel struggles with the pressure. Playing one kid short, the U6 team did their best to make up for it.
“Go Aidan, Run straight!” “Go Hans, Go, go!!” Hans scored the only try for his team. For that 1 phase, the U6 team put together an attacking phase that lead to that 1 try. All you can ask for a bunch of 5 year olds.
The level of competition was high and the standards set by other teams in the tournament were just as high. There’s a Sri Lankan team who’s Under 7 boys won runners up. The team came from a school that prides itself on rugby for the last 100 years. A lot of the teams come from very established set-ups and prides itself on upholding high standards of rugby. Some teams like Tanglin Rugby Club are also consistently and generously funded to allow themselves access to professional coaching.
Of course, then comes the Cavaliers hailing from Australia, a sporting nation where rugby is ingrained, it’s another level completely. Talent, Pedigree and SIZE.
Text beeps “Felix is with Ameer @ the hospital. This is the latest: “Looks bad going for X ray doc say if bad may have to do small operation. Don’t know what she means by that. Am still waiting.” Coach Felix is always there for his boys.
Later on Beeps “Update: Still here in hospital looks good and bad. Good not fractured. Bad swelling could be muscle tear have to go for MRI later if swelling does not go down.”
Coach Allen mentioned, I paraphrase “In a contact situation, our boy took on a monster from the Cavaliers and came out on the wrong end of it” “Even the ref blew the penalty against us!”
Not paraphrasing “their 14 years old BUT they twice our size-lah bro!”
From Coach Felix “Cavaliers Coach came to me after the game to say they couldn’t pay their usual game against us. Says we were tough to crack.” With boys like Ameer, U14 represented well. By the way, Cavaliers went on to win the cup.
The Cobra Corner is in full swing and so much so, you don’t feel as if you’re on away soil. Home is where the heart is and we brought it along with us. Kids, Coaches and Parents and friends in cobra colours generally having a good time while waiting for the next game. It’s on these tours you really get to bond. We may not have won medals but we will play hard, play well and stand proud to represent the game and club. There’s no shortage of Passion.
“Main betul-betul, kalo tak, malu wei!!!!” Shouts one of the Cobrats Supermums. Scary.
“I’m so Happy can I give him a Hug?” Asks Marcelle, another supermum, to coach Dillan’s wife. Cobrats just beat KL Saracens in sudden death overtime. Her son Ryan had a monster of a game.
“Go Get Em Kyle!” Growls his dad, Mike. THE SUPERDAD!
“Call 1 set of rules for both sides Ref!” shouts someone AND the referee stops the game and points towards Coach Dillan. BUT not at him, but past him and we see walking towards the ref is Coach Darryl. Lesson learned “Don’t talk bad about the ref”. In all fairness, Darryl was in Passionate Parent mode.
The tour to Singapore was not easy to do but the club did. It did so representing the club well. There were no UN-towards or ill-disciplined incidents. Even the U14 and U16 group, a bunch of teens away from parents for the weekend conducted themselves well and did not abuse the privilege of being on tour.
However it is, it’s the on field stuff we that we’re on this tour for….
“Move your hand away from your head” “Gavin, please look at me. Do you feel dizzy?” “No” “Do you still want to play?” “Yes” (nodding at the same time). This is after getting hit in the head by a knee. Being slight of frame and generally smaller, he knew no fear.
“That’s a penalty for the forearm hit and 2 minutes for what he said.” The refs (who took his job seriously) states against the Giant and his coach of the opposing team. Nurin, our Stinger, shrugs off the hit to her face, gets up and goes back to her line ready to play.
“Good Tackle Son” a sporting gesture of an opposing coach to Cobrats young Sean. He made a desperate 30 meter chase and stopped a try 3 meters from the line. The team calls him “Heartbreaker” for a reason.
It wasn’t the best game but definitely the most entertaining. The side-lines were packed with spectators from various clubs. Other clubs watched on, adding to the cheers. Felt like a final. It was definitely a great rugby atmosphere.
“Show me your hunger, get the ball!” Shouts Coach SP to Kyle. In his possibly last ever game, he brought the game changing moment. Under pressure from a composed KL Saracens attack, Kyle goes in hard for the tackle and rips the ball off. That rip ball then found itself in the hands of Shakes, who made the quick counter. The defense recovered to stop him but the damage was done with the field open. Hit, Clear, Pickup and Pass (as they were trained) to Faris, who put on his mighty mouse cape and flew. A 40 meter sprint and the chase was on. The defense was quick and were catching up. But at the final 10 meters, they simply ran out of gas. Try Scored. Game won in Sudden Death. All that hard training making the difference.
Different age groups, varied results. But none more unique than what the U16 boys experienced. A true test of character and it takes more than just talent and skill.
The Game Stats vs Thai Barbarians:
“90% of the game defending”
“90% of the game at the 10 meters.”
“Score 0 – 0”
After the game, the opposing coach brought his team over – lined them in front of the Cobrats to bow in a sign of respect!
“I have never seen such an impressive defensive display before” says the Thai Barbarians coach.
A unique and proud moment Coach Felix, Bob and the team, all battered and bruised.
What a weekend. What a Tour.