Rugby in Vietnam


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The Hanoi Dragons - 2010 Indochina Cup champions

Country Blog

Although Hanoi officially celebrated 1,000 years of existance last October, the area of Hanoi (Vietnam) has been inhabited for around 5,000 years. During this period the capital has been shifted and renamed many times, with each dynasty leaving a mark on the history and culture of the country. Perhaps the most significant development to Hanoi's history occured in 1994 when it became lair to the Hanoi Dragons RFC. Hanoi itself has had many names but my personal favourite will remain Long Đỗ (龍肚) with literal translation the "Dragon's belly". Fate may have played its part, but it was certainly an incredible privilege when the Long Đỗ himself welcomed us into the city. Stuart Ferguson, or "Fergo" to all around him, has led the side since his arrival in Vietnam from rural New South Wales. Although an English teacher by trade, his passion for rugby runs through his veins, and to sit through a Super 15 match with the fanatic hooker was about as tranquil as cycling through Istanbul in rush hour. Fergo is one of the many Dragons to actively promote rugby to the young Vietnamese locals, of which many now attend the Dragons Youth training sessions. Where some remain less convinced at adopting the new sport, they are at least assured of his claims to be the first pregnant male on the planet, a joke that has helped him break down early social barriers with the children. Fergo and his Long Đỗ are standing at front row in delivering rugby to the local people. We both wish him well with his rugby projects at the club and with the imminent birth of his baby dragon. 

Although now ready to depart from Hanoi over the Laos/Vietnam border, there are many other individuals that we would like to mention and thank for the overwelming hospitality we have received here. Let us at least start with our wonderful French hosts, "merci beaucoup" to Julian and Sophie, "allez les bleus".

The Dragons, who are the current holders of the Indochina Cup, are a truly international hotpot. Julian is one of the many French players, but notable others include Davey Brown the kiwi cannonball, the pommie president Barnaby Jones and after some impressive cup winner celebration stories, the aptly named "Gullet with a mullet" Alex Wicks from downunder. It is believed that Alex is the first man to have successfully explained the concept of a mullet to a Vietnamese hairdresser.

Jodie and I both participated in a training session where we met with players from Belgium, Romania, Japan and Vietnam, not to mention a strong turnout from the girls featuring many players from the US. Using some great local facilities, many matches of touch and contact were coordinated amongst the juniors and seniors, with an emphasis on fun and involvement for all levels. Finally, I joined in on a full contact 7s match in preparation for their international commitments further in the season. Here I was reminded that 10 months on a bicycle in no way prepares you for being flattened by a Kiwi. If our new kit sponsors Canterbury (CCC) were ever looking to deliver tacklebags into the Vietnam market, good news guys, you already did.

There is currently no Vietnamese Rugby Union and therefore no international side, but the Hanoi Dragons, along with their rivals the Saigon Geckos, will continue to carry the Vietnamese flag with pride, starting with the Indochina Cup 2011. The annual competition features club sides from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Our journey will now take us through these nations where we will publicly unearth the preparations being made for this year's big event. We wish the Dragons, Fergo and the Long Đỗ the very best of luck at defending their crown.

Lastly, a big thanks to Fergo for taking such good care of us during our stay. Hopefully we will have the honour in Melbourne.

If your club is looking for some competitive or social fixtures in the South East Asia region, you can contact the Dragons directly through their website


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