Siam Cup

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Siam Cup
SportRugby union
Instituted1920
Number of teams2
CountryJersey Jersey and Guernsey Guernsey
Holders Guernsey

The Siam Cup is an annual rugby union competition held between the Channel Islands clubs of Jersey Reds and Guernsey. It was first contested in 1920.[1] The trophy is the second oldest rugby trophy in the world to be contested after the Calcutta Cup.[2]

Trophy[edit]

The trophy is a large circular rose-bowl made from coinage of Siam ticals and required the permission of King Rama VI to melt the coins down. The King not only permitted it, he had the trophy created within the Royal Crown Silversmith.[3]

It is beautifully decorated in traditional Siamese style, with figures of dancing girls and elephant heads. It stands on an ebony base and is engraved with the cup winner's names, dating as far back as 1920.

The Cup was brought to the Channel Islands by Lieut-Colonel C H Forty, an officer based in Siam with the Durham Light Infantry. A fellow officer in his regiment was the son of the King of Siam. He was befriended by Forty and his fellow officers, and on eventually becoming King he presented the cup to Forty and his fellow officers as a token of their friendship.

Forty donated the cup to the islands to be played for annually between Victoria College in Jersey and Elizabeth College in Guernsey (These are the CI equivalents to UK Public Schools). When rugby was no longer played by the two colleges it was decided that the cup should be contested between the two island rugby clubs each season, thus began the annual 'battle' for the Siam Cup.

During the German occupation of the Channel Islands by Nazi Germany in the Second World War, the Germans wanted it to be sent to their homeland to be melted down and used as funds to support the Third Reich. Strangely enough the cup 'disappeared' and was not rediscovered until after the end of the occupation. To this day, there is no record of the whereabouts of the cup during this period.

By the 1970s the trophy started to deteriorate from age and a replica was commissioned. The original was handed to the Rugby Football Union in 1977 where it is placed on display at the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham Stadium in London, England.[4]

Competition[edit]

The competition has been contested annually since 1920, each island hosting it every other year. The only breaks in competition were due to the Second World War.[5]

Jersey are the more successful island in the competition, perhaps due to being a professional side playing at level two of the English leagues. Guernsey play at level five.

Since the 2016 event, the rules were changed to put restrictions on Jersey and the players they could field to try and make the competition more competitive. Jersey are now only able to select a player who has been resident in the island for at least three years. The result of the changes was deemed a success as the 2016 event was a closer affair with Guernsey leading until the latter stages before Jersey snatched the win and in 2017, Jersey won by just 2 points. In 2018, Guernsey finally broke the duck as they capped off an excellent season, which had seen them gain promotion to the National Leagues just a week earlier, by winning a first Siam in a decade. 2018 was also the first time in the history of the competition that a clean sweep has been achieved as Guernsey won all four games (Mens 1sts, 2nds, Veterans and Ladies)

As of 2018, Jersey had won 60 times, with Guernsey winning 16. There has only ever been one draw.

Equivalent competitions are held at academy, women's and veterans level.

Guernsey ladies are currently on an unbeaten 7 year run as of 2018.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Siam cup". Jersey RFC. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  2. ^ "Siam Cup Preview". BBC. 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  3. ^ "History — Siam Cup". Guernsey RFC. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Siam Cup". rfu.com. 14 March 1935. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  5. ^ "The Siam Cup". Jersey.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.