The Week That Was – Part 1
By Cobra Comms
The Raya Aidil Fitri celebrations go on for a month in Malaysia and although there were complaints about over-eating (especially beef rendang) from our players and members, that did not stop them from playing two rugby matches during what was a busy week for Cobra Rugby Club, barely two weeks after Hari Raya.
Over the past several years, the 15-a-side Leagues off-season in Malaysia consists of a variety of 7s & 10s tournaments scattered throughout three-quarters of the calendar year.
Although, the 15-a-side variant of rugby is the original gentlemen’s game, the ever popular and faster version of 7-a-side is easier to organise and play, which in turn has gained more momentum amongst rugby and non-rugby fans.
But as we stutter along towards the end of the year, the scramble for players and teams participating in the National Inter Club Competition (NICC) in November becomes frantic as they compete to secure a place in the all-important Malaysia Rugby Super League (MRSL) in January.
However, to maintain the fitness of players during the off season and enthusiasm for the 15-a-side variant, Cobra planned to organise friendly matches between the clubs that are in close proximity to our own which would, hopefully, promote greater camaraderie and create a stronger bond amongst us in the rugby community.
So, in the week that was, two matches fell into our laps which we managed to eek out in four days, a feat that was near impossible considering the amount of lead time given to us to execute it.
But manage it we did with some interesting observations along the way;
- Cobra Select vs Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) British Army
Maybe the rugby gods were listening in, who knows, but an SOS came a-calling via an email on the 8th of July from a fellow club that was unable to field a team to face a British Army side who were on the last leg of their 4 match tour, on the 20th of July.
Be that as it may, this presented us with a grand opportunity to play a match of quality in the off-season.
Whilst there were concerns within the Cobra team management due to lack of players available for the Raya holidays, Club President Tommy Pereira gave the go ahead to host the team, whom we are told by then were the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) touring rugby team. Perhaps the President himself being a former Army man had a lot to do with the decision, who knows, but the confirmation to play them was made less than a week prior to the planned match day.
By that time the Club’s rugby convenor Nazarudin Borhan (another former Army man) had already mobilised the senior squad for training the week after Raya and with help from local clubs NS Wanderers, KSDBKL & a local Politeknik, a Cobra Select team was brought together within this short time frame.
And so we did.
Fast forward to the 20th July, not only was the Club able to field enough players and reserves, a good pitch was booked with flagpoles & rugby post paddings borrowed from KL Saracens, with good teamwork and cooperation shared by Paul Lingan, our ever helpful contact.
The REME team came rolling into Universiti Malaya with their squad on the back of a three-match win in Australia whilst we had rendang-filled stomachs and a total of four days of training trying to gel players who had not played together.
Upon request from the REME team (a few carrying injuries in their ranks), two 30-minute halves were played.
Suffice to say, they played their hearts out and both teams gave good accounts of themselves on the pitch which was, coincidentally, officiated by Cobra’s old guard JJ, who himself has a no-nonsense reputation.
Despite having a love-hate relationship with the rugby fraternity, he came to Cobra’s hour of need and was also able to convince two other touch judges to come as well.
A medical crew, headed by the ever-reliable Dr Azril, was brought in for the one-off match as assurance and insurance for this hard fought match and both teams were more than glad to see their presence throughout the encounter.
It was an eye opener for many of the Club’s younger players against a tough touring team who also admitted post-match that this was their hardest game on the tour.
A couple of players were even given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to play against their British counterparts at rugby.
The ‘third’ half was conducted at the Club’s Bar and Restaurant, speeches were made, awards presented and tokens of appreciation given out between the two sides after a buffet dinner specially prepared by the Club’s Rory Teng, former player turned Cobra Rugby Club hospitality manager & Bar Captain.
That evening, amateur rugby was alive and kicking with camaraderie, passion, rugby songs, races and shirt swapping amongst other things.
Although the night was still young when the visitors departed (an early morning flight the next day put paid to an all-night shift), the whole day’s event left a lasting impression to not only the tourists, but it also reminded the Club and players alike that this was the reason why many of them were still in the hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.
What was the score you say?
It mattered not.
That day rugby won.
Part 2… Cobra vs RSC… in the next article.