Tuesday, July 6, 2010 @ Band of Brothers Lead Brunei Charge.
By Jason Thomas
The Brunei Times
Sunday, June 20, 2010

CAMBODIA and Laos will be facing a different kind of threat when they take on Brunei in the 2010 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Regional Tournament; a triple threat.

Brothers Syaihan Hj Abu Bakar, 27, Abdul Azim, 23, and Dinnie, 22, will be the first trio of siblings to represent the country in a rugby tournament, suiting up for the national team in the week-long competition which kicks-off today with their match against hosts Cambodia at Phnom Penh's Old Stadium at 4pm.

Though sibling teammates are nothing new when it comes to Bruneian sports — football's Hardi and Mardi Bujang, karate's Md Fadillah and Md Fida'iy Hj Sanif and wushu's Isa and Ismi Bismi spring to mind — the Hj Abu Bakar brothers are in rarified company with pencak silat's Norleyermah, Norleyharyanti and Norleydiana Hj Raya. The Hj Raya sisters have all proven themselves in the international scene but that is not the case with the brothers who play for league and cup champions Knights Football Club — of which their father is the president.

He might be the youngest but Dinnie is the most experienced of the trio, the inside centre is also the prodigious captain of the Knights.

Syaihan and Abdul Azim are making their debut in the national team, and though they may lack international exposure, their passion and pride is something that is not up for question.

"I am really excited to be playing with my siblings," said Syaihan when met during the team's departure at the Brunei International Airport on Friday.

"Our dad's very proud and so are our friends. We want to do the best for Brunei and I hope we can make the country proud.

"We have an understanding even when we used to play other sports like football," added Syaihan.

Dinnie was concerned about how his brothers might fare in their first match for the national team but insisted there would be no favouritism.

"We will have to look out for each other. They are all my brothers, the whole team," said Dinnie, adding that he hoped they could return with the trophy.

Soft spoken Abdul Azim had nothing to say other than that he was proud to be picked for the team.

"I was happy when I got the call up. I just want to do my best," he said.

Coming from a family which has always been involved in sports, the trio's selection was welcoming news for their father.

"They have made me proud by following in my footsteps and representing the country," said Hj Abu Bakar Abdullah, who used to fly the flag for Brunei in taekwondo and silat from 1986 to 1993.

His daughter has also seen action in the national fencing team.

Brunei follow up today's game against Cambodia with a match against Laos on Wednesday.

Cambodia and Laos do battle in the final match next Saturday.

Cambodia's newly appointed coach Richie Flanagan revealed that he knew little of Brunei, having seen them play only once last year.

"They have a big, formidable pack," he said in Friday's edition of the Phnom Penh Post.

"Man for man, they probably have a bigger side. They'll be tough to beat.

Ray Leos, acting secretary general of the Cambodian Federation of Rugby, mirrored the coach's comments.

"Brunei will be very physical, and it just depends on if their backline is serviceable," he said.

"Based on past performances, Laos should be considered the slight favourite," he added.

Brunei faced the same opponents in the previous edition of the tournament last March in Savannakhet, Laos, with mixed results.

They beat Cambodia 21-10 for the first time in three tries but were on the losing end of a 28-8 scoreline during their match against the hosts before the match was abandoned because of a blackout in the 8th minute of the second half.

Last year's other result was a 8-3 result for Laos against Cambodia, meaning they were crowned champions of the event.

The HSBC Asian 5 Nations' Premier Division consist of Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Arabian Gulf.

The four lower leagues each have four teams, and winners of each tournament gains promotion in the next division at the expense of the last-placed team.

The Southeast Asia Regional Tournament meanwhile is the lowest leg of the competition and does not offer promotion or relegation.

Instead, it is aimed at fostering competition and development among Asian countries.


@ Seven Players to Make Debut at Asian 5 Nations Rugby.
By Jason Thomas
The Brunei Times
Thursday, June 17, 2010

SEVEN players will be making their debut in the national rugby team during Sunday's 2010 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Regional Tournament in Cambodia.

Forwards Abdul Azim Hj Abu Bakar, Helvey Bujang, Mohd Aimaduddin Hj Ali and Syaihan Hj Abu Bakar have earned their first call up to the side, where they will be joined by backs Abdul Hakim Hj Musdi, Halil Wakiyuddin and Hj Rozaimienizam Hj Jainal - who is also the assistant coach.

Twenty-eight players made the first cut after a trial late April, with national coach Ben Bourne finalising the full squad of 24 two weeks ago.

About 40 per cent of last year's team which competed in Laos will be returning this year, with the majority of the players coming from reigning league and cup champions Knights Rugby Club.

Making up the forwards are Mohammad Syafiee Matali and Mohd Khairi Abd Salam at lock and Mohd Aimaduddin at hooker.

Abdul Azim and Mohd Zailaini Zainal Abidin have been slotted in at second row while captain Ahmad Faez Hj Anuar will be flanked by Sa'adi Hj Abu Bakar and Nobel Lee at the back row.

In the backs, Belait Pythons' Muhamad Ziyad Hj Ramlee and Petrus Tuan will be trusted with the scrum-half and fly-half roles respectively.

Knights' captain Dinie Hj Abu Bakar will play at inside centre while Hj Rozaimienizam is at outside centre.

Halil Wakiyuddin and Ak Md Muizuddin play at wing while Ak Mohd Abdul Aziz Pg Hj Md Norsah rounds up the field of 15 players at full-back.

Abdul Hakim, Bujang, Md Redha Hj Adinin, Mohd Syahidin Badaruddin, Ronny Tarang, Rosmi Janadie, Roy Agar Munan, Rudy Baja and Syaihan have been listed as substitutes. Ahmad Faez, Muhammad Ziyad, Nobel Lee, Tarang and Tuan were some of the players in last October's Asian Rugby Sevens Series national team. Changes to the current squad to the six-day tournament in Cambodia were still being made until Monday because of injuries, work commitments and disciplinary problems.

That isn't stopping national coach Ben Bourne from feeling confident he will be bringing the right men when they leave tomorrow.

"I think experience wise, I would rate them as seven or eight out of 10," said Bourne yesterday.

"Like last year we have a good forward pack but what really makes them stand out is their mobility.

"They are quicker than any previous team I have had and that is really an advantage and we will be using it as our secret weapon.

"The backs have a lot of pace as well and as a whole that will help the team," added the Samoan.

They play their first game against Cambodia on Sunday at the National Sports Complex in Phnom Penh, with the tie against Laos set for next Wednesday Cambodia and Laos do battle in the final match next Saturday. Qatar was supposed to compete in the tournament but pulled out. Brunei faced the same opponents in the previous edition of the tournament last March with mixed results.

They returned from Laos with a 21-10 win against Cambodia, beating the team for the first time in three tries.

However, their match against the hosts was forced to be abandoned due to a blackout in the 8th minute of the second half. The score read 28-8 when the match was ditched.

Laos did not agree to a rematch and Brunei sent a formal appeal to the International Rugby Board (IRB) and Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU). A draw or rematch were the two options on the table, but until today, there have been no new developments in the case.

The result was the team's first "loss" to the Laotians. Their last encounter in June 2007 during the Division 6 Asian Nation Series Rugby Tournament which Brunei hosted saw the national team come up with a dramatic 17-16 win after trailing 8-3 at half time.

Despite entering this year's Asian 5 Nations Regional Tournament seeded third, Bourne believes Brunei deserve to be competing at a higher level.

"We are still playing at the regional level since ARFU think we still need a few more years to develop, but I think that's a bit sad," he said last month.

"As a nation, we have grown a lot and we can definitely compete with the other teams.

"But with our results in the past, especially in Guam ... AFRU think Brunei is too far behind so now we have to prove we can compete at the regional level," he added.

In June 2008, Brunei suffered heavy defeats against both of their opponents in the fourth-tier of the ARFU Asia-Pacific Regional Tournament in Hagtna, Guam.

Losing to the hosts 74-0 and the Philippines 101-0, the latter remains the national team's worst loss ever.


@ Knights Slay NZAB to Collect 7th Title.
By Jason Thomas
The Brunei Times
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Knights Rugby Club added another trophy to their cabinet when they won Sunday's Royal Brunei Recreational Club (RBRC) 2010 Let Autism Touch Your Life Touch Rugby Tournament.

Reigning champions of the Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) league and the Darussalam Cup, the Knights won the seventh title of their short history when they beat New Zealand Association Brunei (NZAB) IGuyz 3-2 on Sunday.

Using their pace and panache to take a 2-0 lead heading into the break at the RBRC field in Berakas, the Knights added to their lead a few minutes into the second half after a solo individual try by Hj Rozaimienizam Hj Jainal.

Though NZAB I Guyz would give the Knights a scare by scoring two late tries, their defence was able to hold off an equaliser.

"We are very happy since this is the first time there has been a proper touch tournament and we won it," said Knight's captain Dinnie Hj Bakar.

"We had the speed and training. We also understood our opponents' style of play.

"I was nervous towards the end when our mistakes let them back into the game but our defence held up after their second try," he added.

Both teams had their chances in the first few minutes of the final but it was Hj Rozaimienizam who would find the breakthrough after running into space on the left flank. Ball handling errors prevented NZAB I Guyz from getting on the scoresheet in the first half and a missed tackle in the Knights' half was all that was needed for Muzaini Awang to race half the length of the field to make it 2-0.

Scrum-half for the Knights' full team, Toma Unoi, nearly cut the gap for NZAB I Guyz after the horn to end the first half, but the referee ruled it out.

It took less than a minute after the restart for Hj Rozaimienizam to score the try of the match.

Intercepting a pass a few metres off his try line, he shifted gears and ran the length of the field to make it 3-0.

Paul Cato cut the deficit to 3-1 after an excellent dummy and a pass from Unoi to his fly-half teammate in the Knights' full team, Kerry Williams, opened space on the left to make 3-2 in the final minute.

The Knights were stopped from making it a double when Wahine Toa beat their ladies' team 6-0 in the ladies final. NZAB Da Boyz defeated Bandar Blacks Junior 4-2 to be crowned champions of the novice category.


@ Knights Complete A Double.
By Jason Thomas
The Brunei Times
Sunday, May 2, 2010

LOVE them or hate them, you have to respect them.

The Knights Rugby Club ended the season as the only undefeated team after wrestling the Darussalam Cup from the stranglehold of the Belait Pythons 73-21 last night.

In what was the biggest night of local rugby all year, the Knights who also lifted the Kamaruddin Cup as a result of their win in the league dominated for large periods with their brand of organised rugby at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.

It was the first time the club has won both competitions.

"We did our best to play structured rugby despite the (wet) conditions and did well on our rucks and phase balls," said the Knights' playing coach Johannas 'Hansie' Hickey.

"We were a bit more organised on the pitch and that allowed us to score," explained the back row prop.

Two-time champions Bandar Blacks finished third in the competition which is a knockout event played between the league's four teams after beating newcomers the Universiti Brunei Darussalam Sharks 48-0.

The Sharks didn't return home empty-handed though, winning the award for 'Fair Play'.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah Hj Abdul Wahab presented the trophies.

The Pythons' faithful were hoping that their team would enter the history books as the only side to clinch the Darussalam Cup three times.

It hardly took five minutes for those hopes to be dashed, with the Knights scoring off a pass from fly-half Kerry Williams who then went on to convert it.

Another successful game with the boot, the New Zealander would convert six of the 11 tries.

A penalty kick from Williams made it 10-0 in the 12th minute, with compatriot at scrum-half Toma Unoi exposing some slack defending to score on the left a couple of minutes later and make it 17-0.

Another penalty kick and it was 20-0 to the Knights' after 20 minutes.

The Pythons needed some ideas, and they needed them fast.

None materialised though, and the Knights would go on to score two unanswered tries after exploiting more poor defending, missed tackles and ball handling errors to set the score at 30-0.

The Pythons got on the scoreboard in the 31st minute when Md Isa Hj Mohamad completed a kick and chase, with Pythons playing coach Petrus Tuan converting the try to make it 30-7.

Talk of a comeback was short-lived though, with Hickey barraging his way through the Pythons' defence two minutes before half-time to score on the right.

Williams converted the try to set the score at 37-7 heading into the break.

Though both forward packs were well matched, the Pythons failed to make theirs count and they really should have done better bringing the ball up.

Forced to play to the Knights' tempo, the Pythons also didn't kick out of danger and it cost them dearly as the match progressed.

Among other downfalls were not recycling the ball well enough and affording the Knights too much space on and off the ball.

Careless passing by the Pythons saw the ball worked to Williams, whose defence-splitting pass to another New Zealander, Stuart Smith, made it 44-7 three minutes into the second half.

A try by Knights' captain Dinnie Hj Bakar made it 49-7, with substitute Buda William cutting the deficit to 49-14 with a try in the 52nd minute.

The rain which started in the second half had died down by now and the Knights started to reassert themselves once again, making it 56-14 after some slick passing.

A well-worked team try which was capped by Rudy Baja sparked more talk of a Pythons comeback at 56-21, but a kick and chase saw Sui cross the line to widen the gap to 63-21 after the conversion.

Tries by Kama and Sui ended the scoring.

The first team to score three tries against the Knights in a single match over the past two seasons, Tuan remained upbeat about the result.

"We had a lot of injuries, before and during the match, so that was one factor in the result," said Tuan, who plays at fly-half for both club and country.

"I'm definitely happy and proud with the boys though, and they gave a good show.

"We are still the Pythons."


@ Now Knights Want The Darussalam Cup.
By Jason Thomas
The Brunei Times
Saturday, April 24, 2010

FRESH off their first senior title, the Knights Rugby Club are hungry for more.

The team captured the Kamaruddin Cup after they pulverised newcomers Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Sharks 84-8 on Sunday. The Knights have now set their sights on the Darussalam Cup, the other trophy that eluded them last season.

A knockout event played between the league's four teams, the Knights face the Sharks in the semi-finals of the competition at 4pm tomorrow.

"It won't be a victory until we win the final (Darussalam Cup)," said Knights' playing coach Johannas 'Hansie' Hickey yesterday.

"We faced them the first time last Sunday and we won because we were the better team all round.

"Our side was made up of predominantly local players but it will be a stronger team on Sunday," assured the New Zealander.

The Knights now have five titles under their belt, their second biggest prize, the National Sports Festival (PSK) trophy they won in 2008 representing Temburong. The three other wins have all come at the junior level.

They won all three of their league matches to be crowned champions, awarded a walkover victory against 2009 champions Belait Pythons in their first match on April 4 and hammering 2006 winners Bandar Blacks 78-0 in their second match on April 11.

The Knights have been aided by the services of flankers Stuart Smith and Julian Penstone as well as scrum-half Toma Unoi and fly-half Kerry Williams this season, and Hickey acknowledged their contribution to the young team.

"They have been playing by example but everyone knows what their job is on the field and they do it," said Hickey, who used to lace up for the Glenora and Te Atatu league clubs in New Zealand.

"If we want to win this semi-final we will have to concentrate on our defence. It has always been the Knights' strong point," he emphasised.

His counterpart was singing the same tune.

"Tighten up the defence and tackle, tackle, tackle!" said Mogamat Shafeek Kamalie of tomorrow's game plan.

"We have to defend like anything if we want to minimise damage and to keep ourselves in the game," added the South African.

Coach of the national side during the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Junior Trophy which the country hosted in 2007 and the 2006 ARFU Championships in Taiwan, Kamalie faces an uphill battle to shape the newest kids on the block into challengers.

"For this year, we are just working on getting the boys used to playing the game, and Ben Bourne (national rugby development officer) has been helping us out by giving us pointers on handling and tackling twice a week," said Kamalie.

"I can see improvement and confidence in their tackling," said the South African.

He seemed optimistic about tomorrow's rematch, especially after breaking the Knights defence for the first time this season.

The Knights only let in 12 points over five regular season games last year.

"No other team have scored points against them this year," he observed, "so for us to get eight is an achievement."

Tomorrow's other semi-final at 8am pits Darussalam Cup holders Pythons against the Blacks.

The final will he held on May 1 at the Balapan Track & Field in Berakas.


Monday, April 19, 2010 @ Knights Win Dr Kamaruddin Cup

Written by James Kon Monday

Bandar Seri Begawan, 19 April 2010 08:11 - Knights lifted the first Dr Kamaruddin Cup after finishing with an unprecedented perfect record with a blowout win of 84-8 against UBD Sharks in the final game of the Brunei Rugby League yesterday.

Asyraf of Knights was in top form as he scored two three tries and another two conversion kicks while his team mate Wadud has three tries with one conversion kick.

Fielding majority of local rugby players, the match was already over by half time when Knights took a commanding lead of 36-5 into the second half.

Johannas Hickey, the coach of Knights, nicknamed `Hansie' after the game said: "I've mostly local players for today's game so that I would know the players to pick for the semifinal game of the Darussalam Cup next week."

"I am happy that the team managed to capture the first Dr Kamaruddin Cup. We will be aiming to push for the Darussalam Cup next week when we face the UBD Sharks again next week," he added.

About the matchup against UBD Sharks next week, coach Hansie said: "If we go in mentally unprepared, we will lose. We have to be 100 percent in focus to take the Darussalam Cup for a clean sweep of the Brunei Rugby League." -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

@ Knights slay Bandar Blacks
Monday, April 12, 2010

EXPERIENCE and fitness helped the Knights Rugby Club pick up their second win of the Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) Rugby League when they beat the Bandar Blacks 78-0 yesterday.

Though it cemented their position as league leaders after two rounds of action, it was their first time taking to the pitch since last week's victory in the tournament opener was a walkover result when defending champions the Belait Pythons could not field enough players.

The Knights are bolstered this season by the arrival of four players with years of experience under their belt, and it showed.

Not only do they have two new flankers, New Zealander Stuart Smith and South African Julian Penstone, the Knights were also able to call on the services of scrum-half Toma Unoi and fly-half Kerry Williams to strengthen the team.

Hj Rozaimienizam Hj Jainal crossed the line at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) field for three tries while Ak Mohd Abdul Aziz Pg Hj Md Norsah and Unoi got a brace each under their name.

Abdul Hakim Musdi, captain Dinie Hj Abu Bakar, Pg Saiful Rizal Pg Hj Masshor and Smith each scored one try, with Williams who used to play for Hautapu in the Waikato Club Premiership in New Zealand converting nine out of the 11 tries.

League champions in the inaugural season in 2006, the Blacks were simply out of shape and out of practice yesterday.

Their numerous missed tackles and unorganised defence were their main downfalls, and their forwards were just no match for the Knights whose pace and passing earned them a 45-0 lead heading into the break.

After letting in a stingy 12 points over five games in their debut campaign last season, the Knights look on course to repeat that feat.

Enjoying possession and territory, the Knights' outclassed their opponents in every department with their ball handling and tackling ensuring the Blacks would finish the game without a point.

"We just played more structured rugby and looked after the ball better," said the Knights' playing coach Johannas 'Hansie' Hickey.

"We had good second phase balls and that gave the backs space to attack," added the 38-year-old coach, who used to play for the Glenora and Te Atatu league clubs in New Zealand.

After a 59-5 result against league newcomers UBD Sharks in the league's first round of matches last week, the Blacks might have been forgiven for their optimism heading into yesterday's clash against last season's runners-up for both the league trophy the Kamaruddin Cup and the Darussalam Cup.

"I felt we were always in it until they started scoring," said Blacks' manager Clifford Chin after the match. "It was a game of two halves we played bad in both halves. There is really nothing much to say."

In the second game, three tries by Cassidy Enggu helped defending champions Belait Pythons to a 53-0 romp over the Sharks.

Apart from Enggu who represented the country during last year's Asian Rugby Sevens Series Chiew Fah Nam, Habib Waliyuddin, Mohd Isa, Roy Agan Munan and Rudy Baja also got on the scoresheet.

National team fly-half Petrus Tuan converted six out of the eight tries.

This week's action pits the Knights against the Sharks, and a win for the league leaders will guarantee them a place in the semi-finals. The other game will see the Blacks go up against the Pythons.

The Brunei Times

Knights Rugby
Knights rugby was established in 2006. Consists of talented players and passionate about rugby. Interested in recruiting new players to promote rugby in Brunei.

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