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World rugby round up – Wounded Lions

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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World rugby round up – Wounded Lions | The Thaiger

PHUKET: In sport, truth is often stranger than fiction. If someone had predicted that 36-year-old Shane Williams (who retired from international rugby two years ago), Brad Barritt (on holiday in the US) and both Christian Wade and Billy Twelvetrees (part of the recent tour of Argentina with England) would all be down under and playing in the last and crucial State game before the first Lions Test against The Wallabies, one would have doubted their sanity. Yet such is the injury count among the tourist backs that this is what happened.

The main reason for these draconian management measures was further injuries sustained during a bruising battle with the Waratahs. Though the Lions won convincingly 46-19, they lost Test center Jamie Roberts with a torn hamstring and having already declined to risk Brian O’ Driscoll, George North, Tommy Bowe or Manu Tuilagi (all carrying knocks), the team had a makeshift look. In the event, they performed heroically, with Leigh Halfpenny again the star with 30 points, and Jonathan Davies offering a complete performance at outside center. Ten of this side will probably start the First Test, including the front five.

Sadly, the “reserve” team’s subsequent display against the Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday was an anti-climax. Unsurprisingly, the reinforcements performed like players either short of practice or unused to each other, the set piece was dysfunctional with Best’s throwing inaccurate, and Hogg, playing in the unaccustomed position of outside half, too often chose the wrong tactical options in a woeful first half. Though there was more urgency to their play in the second period, the Lions surrendered their unbeaten record, losing a tight game by 14-12.

In New Zealand, the top ranked nation lead France 2-0 in a three Test series. The first Test was close, with France belying their Six Nations form with a spirited display, in which Wesley Fofana scored a typically dynamic try to give France an early lead. If they were eventually unlucky to lose 23-13, they were then outclassed in the second game by a clinical All Blacks side, reaping the benefit of collective training, France conceded thirty points without reply.

Elsewhere in the rugby-playing world, there has been much activity and some surprises. In Japan, a Welsh team shorn of all its Lions and controversially lacking the experienced James Hook and Dwayne Peel, could only draw a two match series with the host nation. Also unexpected was Scotland’s defeat by the feisty Samoans in South Africa, a defeat which shows that they, in common with Wales, have limited strength in depth. The outcome of this quadrangular tournament, which also features Italy and South Africa, hinges on the final game between the hosts and Samoa..

England, it seems, have no such problems with reserve strength. A young and inexperienced side inflicted on Argentina the first whitewash ever achieved by a visiting English team. They convincingly won the first game by 32 points to 3, and in a much tougher second encounter, triumphed 51-26.

The tour produced some new international stars, especially in the three quarters where Christian Wade, Marlon Yarde, Kyle Eastmond and Jonny Maywere formed part of a rapier-sharp back division. Yarde scored twice on his debut and Eastmond beat five men in a run reminiscent of Jason Robinson at his best.

Forward dominance led to two penalty tries. Having won seven of their last eight games, England will go into the autumn internationals in the knowledge that they can, like New Zealand, field two very different teams of international standard.

As for the wounded Lions, they must raise their game against the Wallabies in the first Test in Brisbane. Not helped by the news that Digby Ioane, the Wallabies’ star winger had declared his fitness for the encounter. Bring it on.

The Lions play their first Test against Australia today at 5:05pm, followed by a match against the Melbourne Rebels on Monday, June 25 at 4:40pm.

— Patrick Campbell

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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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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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