Yellow Sea Cup: Rugby on Banks of the Han
Way back in 1972 a group of expats, mainly from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, formed the Seoul Wanderers Rugby Club to play against university and army teams in Korea. The teams were formidable and not afraid of a punch up. According to former player Mike Seros, “The Wanderers were eventually disbanded for getting into too many punch-ups with Korean sides.”
“Sometime in a 1976 game against Yonsei University, there was a ruckus that really blew up and they walked off the field,” Barry Martin, the Survivors legendary captain, said.
After that game, the Wanderers couldn’t find a Korean team willing to play against them.
A year later and a conversation in the U.S Embassy men’s room led to seven men meeting up for the first training session of what would become the Seoul Survivors, the name being chosen over the old Wanderers name so as to not scare off Korean teams.
Thirty-four years later and the Survivors are going strong.
June 11 is an important day for expat rugby in Korea. The Beijing Devils come to town to play the Survivors in The Yellow Sea Cup.
The Yellow Sea Cup is an annual rugby union competition currently involving clubs from four cities in China and South Korea. Launched in 2005, the tournament is held from April to November, with various stages scheduled around domestic club competitions. The Devils are the reining champions and their victory over arch-rivals, the Shanghai Hairy Crabs, made the Beijing Devils the most successful team ever, winning the competition three times.
The game will be held at the survivors home ground in Jamwon, Seoul, a great location on the banks of the Han river with plenty of space for kids to play and bike. The day will be given over to rugby, with a 7's or 10's tournament in the early part of the day, featuring U.S military teams, other expat teams from around Korea, as well as any local Korean teams that are interested. There is hope that there will be Ka Brew beer and New Zealand wines supplied by Tiwi Trade for spectators to purchase.
The survivors lost a hard fought match to the Hairy Crabs in Beijing last year, meaning the Seoul team narrowly missed out on the Yellow Sea Cup for the first time since 2005.
“Yellow Sea Cup rugby matches are generally tightly contested affairs with players displaying a high level of commitment and physicality. The players take the matches very seriously and then put the same effort into partying post match,” said Nick Goodman, coach at the survivors.
“Having played rugby for over 25 years, in New Zealand, Europe and Asia I can safely say Y.S.C after-match functions are second to none,” Goodman added.
The post-match celebrations will take place at one of the team’s sponsors, Scrooge Bar in Itaewon, and everyone is invited along.
For more info about the event or the Seoul Survivors in general, visit their websitewww.survivorsrfc.com.