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World Sports: Review of Six Nations

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World Sports: Review of Six Nations | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Before the Six Nations began the pundits were, as usual, making their predictions about the destiny of the championship. After their stunning autumn victory over Australia, France was strongly fancied to win “Le Grand Slam”.

Wales, despite being current Six Nations champions, had lost seven games on the bounce and seemed to be out of contention. Ireland, so strong at regional level, was beginning to show the team’s ages, and, despite the perennial genius of Brian O’Driscoll, was conceivably past its best. England, the youngest team, and fresh from an emphatic autumn victory over the All Blacks, was the dark horse.

As usual, events have proven the pundits wrong. England, with three wins from three games, stands at the top of the table. Not achieved without some alarums and excursions.

The win against Scotland (38-18) at Twickenham was conclusive, despite the home team conceding two breakaway tries, and the triumph against Ireland (12-6), ground out in the Dublin drizzle, showed self-belief, resolve and an ability to adapt to very different conditions.

Against a revitalized France, England lost the first half to a team whose scrummaging, lineout work and general tactical “nous” were superior. Wesley Fofana’s side-stepping, blind-side try was sublime. But in the second half, and partly as a consequence of some strange substitutions by Philippe Saint-André, England’s youthful and ultimately fitter team came back from the dead, inspired by outstanding individual performances by Manu Tuilagi and “Captain Courageous” Chris Robshaw. Stuart Lancaster, surely the coach of the year so far, talked proudly of “composure”.

Second and third in the table, both with four points each and separated by just 11 points, are two unlikely candidates for the title, Wales and Scotland.

Few gave Scotland a chance this year, especially after their early defeat by England (38-18), but they have shown resilience in overcoming first Italy (34-10) and then Ireland (12-8) at Murrayfield.

The victory over the Irish must rank as one of the great escapes of the tournament, especially after Scotland was totally outplayed during the first period, shackled in its own territory, and gained hardly any possession. Had Ireland taken its chances, it would have been out of sight by half time.

But Scotland battled tenaciously in the second period and, urged on by a near flawless performance from scrum-half Chris Laidlaw, absorbed a late Irish surge to grind out an unlikely win.

Though few Welshmen would agree, their win against France in Paris (16-6) ranks as the upset of the campaign. Plagued by injuries, a lapse in form and the loss of their coach, Warren Gatland, to British and Irish Lions duties, a depleted side held on to beat France.

A sensational result.

More recently, and in the rain at Stadio Olimpico, Wales showed superior fitness and fire-power to subdue an Italian side (26-9) that lacked its best player and captain, Sergio Parisse. Wales has a powerful pack, and their juggernaut back line with youthful wings Alex Cuthbert and George North, is beginning to fire on all cylinders. At full-back, Leigh Halfpenny has hardly missed a kick or a tackle all campaign. A certain Lion in waiting.

Meanwhile, “Les Bleus” have lost all three games, a situation unthinkable at the start of the championship. After all, France has a greater pool of talent to choose from than any other Northern Hemisphere nation. However, and despite a rock-like scrum and consistently heroic performances from Louis Picamoles, the team has failed to gel. More changes in personnel can be expected.

Thoughts are now turning to the crucial March clash between Wales and England, which may well decide the winner of the Six Nations – unless either team slips on the banana skin laid down by Scotland or Italy. The presence of seventy-four thousand spectators in the Millenium Stadium, mostly Welshmen baying for English blood, will present England’s emerging young team with its greatest challenge yet.

Bring it on…

— Patrick Campbell

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Tourism

The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options

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The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options | The Thaiger

We spoke about the new proposal for an Area Hotel Quarantine last Friday and in Thailand News Today. The mandatory 14 day quarantine (magically extended a couple of days at many facilities at the foreigner’s cost) remains the key sticking point for the return of tourists or travellers, in any significant or useful numbers. A number of visas and quarantine programs has done little to increase the numbers of foreign arrivals to Thailand.

The proposal, leaked out as a ‘discussion’ pending cabinet talks and a final decision, has not received much support from the overseas community that are trying to travel to Thailand, or former expats that are trying to get back. Many of the comments believe the 14 days, even restricted to a larger set of walls, is still too restrictive, costly and inconvenient.

“It would also be nice if the two weeks quarantine was not part of the visa! You get a two month visa minus the two weeks.”

“It’s still a prison if you can’t get out. Voting with my feet”

“There’s just not going to be any tourism until Thailand stops this 14-day quarantine nonsense.”

The proposal allows guests to leave their hotel rooms after the first 3 days of a 14 day stay. The proposal is on the agenda for the next CCSA weekly meeting. The proposal was mooted at a meeting last Thursday and chaired by Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

After the first 3 days, guests would have another swab test before being able to spend the remaining 11 days meandering around the rest of the hotel complex (so, suddenly, REALLY large hotels in great locations become much more attractive). But they wouldn’t be able to leave the hotel property.

The Area Hotel Quarantine is being seen as an accommodation for the hardest hit tourist zones in Thailand – Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani (the 3 islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao) and Chon Buri (Pattaya). In all cases the key tourist zones are desperate for the government to ease restrictions or do something… anything… to help boost travel to the battered tourist economies that rely, mostly, on the visits from tourists.

After the 14 day AHQ the visitor will be free to travel anywhere around Thailand.

Last Thursday’s conference call says that Ministers are trying to come up with ways to start re-opening up Thailand to more travellers from next month by expanding the options and slowly easing restriction.. They also want to re-open talks with neighbouring countries and other countries deemed ‘low risk’, or with high vaccination uptake, with travel bubble options, hopefully by May.

About vaccinations, the government is also considering plans to have a no-quarantine option for visitors to come to Thailand as long as they’ve been vaccinated. But the Public Health Ministers says they are looking at the lead from the World Health Organisation about how to administer this sort of ‘vaccine passport’ access as there needs to be a greater body of knowledge about the efficacy of various vaccines. The International Air Transport Association is also in discussion with airlines and governments about restricting access to international travel for people who have been vaccinated.

It was also disclosed this week that some foreigners in the first batch of golf quarantine, where they have to stay in their room for 3 days then can roam around the golf course and play golf, have tested positive for the coronavirus after the test on the third day of their stay. Another batch of Villa Quarantine tourists, visiting Phuket at the end of February, have all returned negative test results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

(The hotel depicted in the main photo may, or may not, be associated with the Area Hotel Quarantine program)

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Crime

2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws

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2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws | The Thaiger

2 Phuket Town nightclubs are shutting down after allegedly violating multiple laws. The Maldives and H20 on Lim Sui Ju Road, on the south end of Phuket Town were ordered by the Phuket Governor to close immediately, with the Maldives being ordered to close for 5 years.

The order comes after the Phuket City Police inspected the Maldives club, arresting the manager for operating an entertainment venue without a permit, allowing people under 20 years old to work or “use services in the venue,” and for selling alcohol without a permit.

Governor Narong cited his authority under Section 4 of NCPO order 22/2558 to order the Maldives nightclub to be closed for 5 years, from March 5, 2021 to March 4, 2026.

The order also prohibits the operators from opening any other entertainment venues during the same period. The H20 nightclub was ordered to close by a provincial order after Phuket City Police say they inspected the venue and charged the operator for selling or providing shisha, or baraku, without permission.

The owner was also accused of operating an entertainment venue without a permit and violating the provincial order for enforcing Covid-19 safety measures. But it is unknown what penalties were handed down to the operator of the H20 nightclub, unlike the Maldives operator, who received a penalty.

Instead, the governor cited the Revolution Council announcement of 1959, to shut down the establishment for 30 days from March 5, 2021 to April 3, 2021. The orders noted that both operators of the clubs have the right to appeal the closures, having 15 days to file an appeal directly with the Phuket Governor.

Meanwhile, Phuket is set to open its doors to vaccinated, international tourists by October, pending the government’s approval. The local government’s initiative, named Phuket First October, proposes vaccinating a majority of its population over 18 years of age in time for the high season.

The move would allow thousands of vaccinated Europeans to enter Thailand, while locals would be protected from the virus symptoms.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Drugs

Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests

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Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests | The Thaiger

An early morning drug bust in Rawai, Phuket has yielded 9 arrests. The first raid yesterday consisted of 30 task force members who raided a sea gypsy shack near the beachfront in Rawai.

43 year old Saroch Homhuan, and 34 year old Juree Bangjak, were arrested and charged with posession of a Category I drug with the intent to sell, after police found 9 pills of methamphetamine, or yaba in Thai, over 6 grams of crystal meth, or ya ice in Thai, and 3 other “items of evidence.”

31 year old Suriyan Na Takuathung, and 29 year old Prathip Areerop, were arrested and charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell, and possession of a Category 5 drug respectively. Police say they found 20 pills of methamphetamine, 0.92 grams of dried marijuana and 5 items of drug paraphernalia.

Police also raided 2 houses in Moo 2, arresting 5 suspects, named as 21 year old Vikrom Kongwiriyakul, 32 year old Narunat Chanthamuwong, 18 year old Chanchai Damrongkaset, a woman named Chantha Hansaithong, and 21 year old Warut Rodphan.

Warut was allegedly found with a bottle containing 500 millilitres of kratom juice. Police also say they seized 150 grams of kratom leaf dregs which are used to boil leaves in order to make the juice. Police charged him with posession of a Category 5 drug.

Police say they confiscated a total of 13 litres of kratom juice from 4 other suspects, which was contained in 10 bottles along with other ingredients and equipment to produce the drug cocktail called ‘4×100.’

All 9 suspects were taken to the Chalong Police Station in which only 1 agreed to undergo drug rehabilitation.

The raids come after the Phuket Provincial Government ordered officers of the Muang District Office to target villages where drugs are prevalent. A spokesman for the government said police will continue to remove drug traffickers from the community while working to improve the quality of local people’s lives so they don’t have to use drugs anymore.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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