Article by Craig Brown
The Penguins were invited back to participate in both the SCC 7s and COBRA teams in November 2016 and of course were delighted to make the journey back to Asia.
It was brilliant that James Farndon (England 7s coaching panel) was available again to lead the coaching team and he was partnered with long time Penguin player (captain of the 2013 HK Tens winning side) and now developing coach Reece Robinson. Our medical team was the same as 2015 with Sam Brennan stepping in as physio and Su Olovsson looking after massages and 1st aid. Craig Brown was manager again for the 7th consecutive year and was joined by Andi, Izzah and Gladys as our liaison team.
Many thanks to our sponsors Grove Industries, Tsunami, and the Sponsor a Tour Day members who helped financially to make this tour possible.
Day 1 Richard Bennett
Day 2 Iain MacLeod
Day 3 Penguin founders Tony Mason and Alan Wright
Day 4 Keith Knowles and Jim Watson
Day 5 Jonathon Addis
Day 6 Ian Warbrick
Day 7 Vincent Bramhall
The team was fully assembled by Tuesday night and the team started training on Wednesday. Each day had two trainings expect Friday which was a light captains run.
Thanks to Crossfit Tanjong Pagar for hosting our gym session with lunch provided by Crossfits food partner Jard.
The team prepared well with a mixture of training at SCC and at Dempsey field and the coaches were satisfied with the weeks work and looked forward to seeing the team in action. The only thing missing was a practise match as we have had in other years.
Thanks to Ian MacLeod who put in a dinner for the team at the SCC on Wednesday night a fun filled occasion.
With only 16 teams in the tournament this year the organisers threw up an interesting draw when they put the top six seeded teams all in two pools, with the top three from each group guaranteed to progress to the quarter finals. Our group included England and France Academies and the RAF Spitfires. An interesting point was three of the teams from our pool made it to the semi-finals.
In a repeat of the quarter-final in 2015, we drew England Academy in the first match on Friday night. With not much between the team this was a close and exciting match. The play ebbed and flowed with great defence from both sides. The Penguins played a slightly more confrontational match and secured a deserved victory scoring 3 tries to 2 and a 19 to 12 victory.
Next up, for the first match on Saturday was the RAF Spitfires. The Spitfires did not have the best of draws, and were a little of the standard of the other 3 teams in the pool but proved to be committed opposition. The coaches gave all players a good run out with the victory comfortable in the end.
Last game of the pool phase was against France development. The Penguin team did not play as well as the first two games and were chasing the game for a bit. The score was always close and the Penguins came right back into the match and could have won but the French held on to win 19 to 12.
With the Penguins, France and England all losing once in pool play it was points for and against that determined the standing. With our superior score over the RAF the Penguins went through as 1st qualifier, France 2nd and England 3rd.
On Sunday, our first match, the quarter final, was against the Iskandar Raiders from Johor in Malaysia. Their team had 11 Fijians and all great at playing 7s. In a very close encounter, the Penguins got home 14 to 12. The half time lead was 14 to 0 but the second half belonged to the Malaysian team, credit to the Penguin team who would not yield and defended brilliantly for long period, especially in the 2nd half.
And to the semi-final and opponents England. Credit to England who adjusted their style for this game and played a fast game with minimal contact. They moved the ball well and found gaps in the Penguin defence. England Academy ran out winners 24 to 5 and the Penguins headed off the field to reflect on another SCC 7s.
It was a great week with a special team. All looked forward to a relaxing Sunday night and then on to the next mission to Malaysia the following week.
Recognition to the Singapore Cricket Club and its members for hosting us yet again many thanks.
Thanks to everyone for their efforts in the week.
We said goodbye to some great men, the 7s only guys, and turned our attention to meeting new team mates for the COBRA Tens and the next tournament.
Back row: Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a (Massey, North Harbour XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ U20), Brad Tucker (Christchurch, Waikato, Canterbury B & 7s) Middle Row: Reece Robinson (Asst Coach Manawatu age group coach), Bill Calcraft (Senior Vice President), Su Olovsson (Masseur), Whiria Meltzer (North Shore, North Otago, Northland XVs & 7s and North Harbour 7s), Shannon Chase (Havelock North, Hawkes Bay XVs & 7s, Hurricanes Dev, NZ 7s Dev), Sam Christie (Fraser Tech, Waikato, Benetton Treviso, Western Force), Matt Matich (Dargaville, Northland, Auckland XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ Schools 7s), Freedom Vaha'akolo (Ponsonby, Auckland Age Groups, Blues U18, NZ Schools) Craig Brown (Manager), James Farndon (Coach England Students, Great Britain, England 7s)
Front Row: Liam Steel (University, Auckland XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ Dev 7s), Broc Hooper (College Rifles, Canterbury, Auckland B & 7s, NZ Schools & Universities), Gareth Bautz (Wests, Brumbies 7s, Tribe 7s Captain), Soseni Anesi (Timi?oara Saracens, Waikato, Chiefs, NZ 7s, NZ All Blacks Vice Captain), Josh Kaifa (Manukau, Auckland XVs and 7s), Sam Brennan (Physio)
Inset: Guest player from Iskandar Raiders
Penguins 19 - 12 England Academy
Penguins 33 - 5 Spitfires
Penguins 38 - 19 France Development
Penguins 28 - 12 Iskandar Raiders (MAS)
Penguins 24 24 England Academy
The team had a leisurely bus ride from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur via Johor. The greatest excitement on the journey was when the Singapore bus driver got lost in Johor (when trying to find the bus that would take us to KL) and went up a narrow street and got stuck. It was a 123 point turn to get around a tight corner much to the amusement of the team and local onlookers. The 500m queue of traffic behind us was less amused.
The plan for KL was simple. Get the squad acclimatised to the hotel and KL, meet the incoming players, get on with our training sessions and have a little bit of time for some R&R. We had 2 injured players from Singapore in Soseni and Broc. Sos took up duties as trainer and Broc seamlessly fitted into the roll as assistant manager, and did a few hard yards behind the scenes, so thanks to both.
The team had a relaxing BBQ evening with Jon and Kelly Chivers and friends at Jons housing complex. Manager Craig Brown thanked all those who had helped put on a great evening. Jon has been a long standing friend of the Penguins and his evenings are now a feature and a must attend of our visits to KL!
The team also had a post training pool session and a great meal at Out Of Africa and thanks to Dave Solomon for arranging.
The team travelled to the International School of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday afternoon to train and run a coaching session for the children from the school. The Penguins focused on skills and team work and the players joined in in the games. Thanks to Ting, Zailene, Marc and staff for arranging our visit to the International School, and for kindly hosting the team at the annual Synapse dinner the Royal Selangor Golf Club afterwards.
With the normal stadium for the COBRA 10s not being available because of refurbishment, the tournament was staged at the COBRA fields at Padang Astaka MBPJ. This made logistics a little simpler and brought the crowd a lot closer to the action.
The team had a number of training sessions including one gym session at True Fitness #truefitnessjaya33. The coaches were delighted with the improvement over the sessions and the team was gelling nicely.
COBRA had carried out some work to get the field ready but the massive down pours each afternoon at about 4PM made the field soft under foot. The rain during the final was something else with the match being abandoned quiet an experience for all concerned.
The Penguins made a good start to the tournament with 3 convincing wins on day one and in the process conceded no points. The coaches were satisfied with the days work but they had not really been tested, so there was no need to get carried away.
On day two, the quarter final was against Charis Wolfpack Rugby from Australia, who had an international team as well. The defence from the opposition was good and although they did not have a lot of ball to start with, the Penguins had to work had to find the space. In the end the Penguins won well by three tries to nil but had to work. The opposition had periods on attack in the second half, which tested the penguin defence.
The Penguin semi-final was against the best two teams in the tournament, and it is probably true that everyone at the tournament was thinking who ever won this premier match between Penguins and Borneo would win the tournament. The Penguins had more possession and territory in the first half but the Borneo defence could not be breached. It was a classic game of attach, desperate defence, turn over and counter attack from both sides. Borneo had the upper hand in the first phase but the Penguins were wining turnovers and attacking the space well. Milford K went on a few scathing runs but could not link with the support and was nailed in good tackles and opportunities went missing.
Borneo scored late in the first half as the Penguin defenders ran out of numbers. Although the Penguins attacked for large parts of the second half they could not find the score to draw level despite a number of attempts. Chasing the match towards the end, with the score 5 - 0 the Penguins made a mistake which got Borneo down to within touching distance of the Penguin line. From a lineout, drive and maul Borneo got over to score and win the match 10 0.
Back row: Marc Daniel (Physio), Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a (Massey, North Harbour XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ U20), Su Olovsson (Masseur), Adrian Smith (Massey, North Harbour, Blues Dev), Reece Robinson (Asst Coach Manawatu age group coach), Victor Tuungafasi (Grammar TEC, Blues U18, Auckland Age group), Brad Tucker (Christchurch, Waikato, Canterbury B & 7s), Matt Matich (Dargaville, Northland, Auckland XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ Schools 7s Vice Captain), Howard Sililoto (Old Boys Marist, Northland, Blues Dev), Toby Morland (Te Kawau, Otago, Manawatu, Highlanders, Chiefs, Munster), Soseni Anesi (Timi?oara Saracens, Trainer), Tony Hanks (Coach Waikato, Wasps, Blues)
Front Row: Craig Brown (Manager), Josh Kaifa (Manukau, Auckland XVs and 7s), Liam Steel (University, Auckland XVs & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ Dev 7s), Freedom Vaha'akolo (Ponsonby, Auckland Age Groups, Blues U18, NZ Schools), Shannon Chase (Havelock North, Hawkes Bay XVs & 7s, Hurricanes Dev, NZ 7s Dev), Sam Christie (Fraser Tech, Waikato, Benetton Treviso, Western Force - Captain), Milford Keresoma (University, Canterbury XVs & 7s, Crusaders Dev, NZ U20 & 7s), Broc Hooper (College Rifles, Asst Manager), Harrison Levien (Marist, Waikato, NZ U20).
Once again a big thanks to the Club members who participated in the Sponsor a Tour Day, and are listed below, who helped us get to the tournament.
Day 8 Jon Chivers
Day 9 Ian McMorrine and Gordon Johnstone
Day 10 Tom and Penny Wacker
Day 11 David Jenner
Day 12 John Grove
Day 13 Louis Triay QC
Day 14 Bill Calcraft
Thanks to all of the squad that contributed to a great week and fortnight. Also special thanks to the players who left it all on the field the coaches who guided them and the medical team of Sam (SCC 7s), Marc (COBRA 10s) and Sue who played a blinder. Thanks also to our trusty LOs who make the world go round!
Again many thanks to COBRA for their support and the invite to the 49th COBRA Tens. It is one of the highlights of the Penguin calendar.
Also thanks to our hard working LO Malik, who again missed the photo.
Penguins 36 - 0 SSTMI Eagles (MAS)
Penguins 52 - 0 Eden RFC (NZL)
Penguins 34 - 0 Duka Old Boys (RSA)
Penguins 21 - 0 Charis Wolfpack Rugby
Penguins 0 10 Borneo Eagles
Congratulations to Adrian Smith and Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a who both made Super Rugby squads on return from Malaysia based on their efforts well done and enjoy the season.