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Phuket to host first 80-80 international rugby tournament

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket to host first 80-80 international rugby tournament | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Dr Marut Muangkeo, President of the Thai Rugby Union (TRU), has announced that the world’s first international 80-80 rugby tournament, in which all players each must not weigh more than 85 kilograms, will be held in Phuket from August 6 to 14.

Apart from the weight restriction, 80-80 rugby is full 15-a-side contact rugby played under the existing International Rugby Board (IRB) laws for official under-19 matches.

The name 80-80 was adopted because no player can weigh more than 80kg at the start of a season.

Auckland Rugby Union, New South Wales Union and Japan Rugby Football Union have all confirmed to compete against Thailand in August. “These Unions represent the ‘powerhouses’ of Southern hemisphere rugby and of course, Japan is the leading rugby nation in Asia, being the only one to have made a World Cup,” Dr Marut said in a press release.

“[The event] should prove to be one of the most competitive and closely fought rugby competitions between Asian Unions and Southern hemisphere unions ever.”

Don McBain of the TRU told the Gazette that although the tourney was originally scheduled to be played in Bangkok, the Ministry or Sports and Tourism decided to have Phuket host the tourney as part of its post-tsunami recovery policy.

Dr Marut explained, “When told of the venue change, representatives of Auckland Rugby Union and New South Wales Rugby Union were very enthusiastic. They will be spending some time in Bangkok as they pass through, but were more than happy to be playing their rugby in Phuket.”

Squads of roughly 30 players, coaches and managers will be staying in Phuket for a full 10 day and nights. “And because the matches are 15 a side, requiring mandatory rest periods between matches, there will be plenty of time for the teams to take in all the tourist activities,” said Dr Marut.

Also expected to attend, despite their demanding schedules, are the Chairman of the Australian Rugby Union, Dilip Kumar, and the Chairman of Auckland Rugby Union, Ken Baguley.

The IRB are expected to send both technical development managers and media representatives to study and record the tournament; filming of the event will be televised worldwide on the IRB’s weekly Total Rugby program.

However, Mr McBain explained that it has yet to be determined whether the tourney will be televised locally in Thailand.

He added that he expects the popularity of 80-80 rugby to skyrocket. “The potential for this is huge. If it’s anywhere near as successful as it has been in New Zealand, we’re sure it will take off,” Mr McBain said.

Although 80-80 rugby is a relatively new form of the classic sport, in the Auckland region alone some 200 clubs already play 80-80.

Dr Marut was enthusiastic about Thailand’s potential to perform well internationally in the sport because “it will be a competition based on individual skills, teamwork and technique only, without the domination of physical power that can be generated by some of the physically bigger peoples such as Fiji and South Africa.

“The concept is particularly appealing to Asian and African countries because these Unions can now compete. Thailand recognized this and has taken a valuable and enviable initiative, now grabbing the lead over every other union in the world,” he said.

“Imagine the interest if Thailand were to end up in the top 4 nations in the world, and with weight grade, there is no reason why that could not be,” Dr Marut added.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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