Many locals and expats watched the World Cup, marvellously managed by Japan, today a top-tier rugby-playing nation. But because of its tighter format and more open technique, Sevens has been blossoming across the region, helped by the lure of an entry to the Olympics next year for successful nations. Likewise, the womens' game has mushroomed in popularity with Thailand at the forefront – the national ladies' 7s team made the final of the most recent challenge last month, losing only to Japan in the final.
David Adamson would have reason to feel a little smug about all this: he is Tournament Director for the grand-daddy of all regional sevens tournaments, the Bangkok International Sevens which takes place November 9-10 on the beautiful playing fields of Bangkok Patana school. This will be the 24th year of this event, which pioneered the sevens (as opposed to 15-a-side, as in the World Cup) format locally. David also had the foresight to ensure the event was one of the first in the region to offer and encourage the women's game alongside mens' and youth rugby.
It's a fun weekend with some serious action for competitors, with teams from as far afield as Africa and New Zealand matching up against entries from Laos, Vietnam and Thailand itself, and some serious entertainment for spectators.
David has a team of volunteers who make things happen on time, and invaluable support from sponsors who enable the tournament to act as a kind of incubator for regional talent. Main sponsor is Hart Innovations, a British company leading the field of blood diagnostics. “Hart's managing director Albert 'Alby' Pattison is a great enthusiast, very hands-on,” Adamson explains. “This sponsorship has enabled me and my team to attract some of the best club teams from around the world to play to showcase Rugby Sevens while developing the sport among the poorer and less rugby-skilled nations of Asia.”
One great example is the Vientiane Lions; against the odds, Laos is developing some fine rugby and the Bangkok Sevens arranged for them to take part. In their first year these ladies managed to win their first match; last year they won the womens' tournament outright!
The event has categories for elite and less 'committed' teams. It's fierce, fast-moving fun and recommended for all. Bangkok's premier Sevens gets under way at 0900 on Saturday November 9: be there or miss out on a great weekend of sporting and social action. More details at http://www.bangkoksevens.com/