08th Oct 2020

A Potted History

The Pot Bellied Pigs were formed in 1997 when a number of large social rugby players based in Hong Kong decided to go on tour to Manila. In our inaugural game, against the Manila Nomads, The Pot Bellied Pigs, living up to their name, fielded a team which included 14 recognised front-row forwards.

Since inception, The Pot Bellied Pigs have gone from strength to strength and a formal club structure was established in 2001. The Pot Bellied Pigs are predominantly a touring team (the real Asian Barbarians?), which draws on like-minded rugby players from clubs all over Asia and beyond who adhere to the true amateur spirit of the game of rugby union.

As a touring team The Pot Bellied Pigs go on a number of tours each year. Some of these are to attend 10-a-side tournaments around Asia, whilst others comprise a long weekend with a 15-a-side game. Having participated in the Hat Yai Sevens in Thailand many years ago, we now resolutely refuse any invitation to play rugby sevens – it is just not suited to our skills and experience!

Tour locations have included Macau, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia (Bali and Jakarta), The Philippines, Myanmar and even Mongolia. We were the first international touring team to play a game of rugby in Iryan Jaya (now called Papua) in Indonesia.

The Pot Bellied Pigs are tournament favourites throughout Asia, resplendent in our touring kit, which is different for every tour but is generally a combination of the club colours of shocking pink, lime green, lemon yellow and electric blue.

In fact, our kit is so popular and universally liked that one our playing shirts from the 2003 “SARS Tour” to Phuket proudly hangs in the Rugby Union Museum in Twickenham, England.

We are a purely invitational team but, unlike the Barbarians, you do not need to wait for your invitation letter – just invite yourself! Over the years a number of international players have invited themselves to play for us. These include Jeff Probyn, Eric Rush, John Bentley, Doddie Weir and Serge Betsen, as well as number of Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore internationalists.

The Pot Bellied Pigs are not just about rugby. Through our charity golf and rugby tournaments in Clark in the Philippines, which have been held annually since 2004, we have raised significant funds for the development of youth rugby and projects involving disadvantaged children in the Philippines, as well as for the Philippine Rugby Union Development Fund. We also sponsor children’s education in Thailand and, in the past, have made donations for the development of the game of rugby in several other countries around Asia.

We also provide financial support to the Laos Rugby Federation to help promote the ChildFund Pass It Back initiative in the Paek District of Xieng Khouang Province. This initiative includes delivering a rugby and life skills curriculum to young people in what is one of the poorest countries in Asia. 

We have recently teamed up with the Atlas Foundation and are looking to co-fund (with the Atlas Foundation) other initiatives across Asia to support the development of rugby and disadvantaged communities.

We could not have participated in all these charitable causes without the help of our members, corporate members and other supporters who have generously donated their time and money over the years. 

Pot Bellied Pigs in Hong Kong

It would be remiss of us to not mention the Pot Bellied Pigs history in Hong Kong. Long heralded as the team to play by international touring teams the Pot Bellied Pigs has a long history playing many notable and memorable touring teams including a team from the USS George Washington. We have continued to take part in one off and tournaments in Hong Kong and will continue to do so.

As a club we are determined to support the charitable efforts of the Union in Hong Kong and will be looking to partner with them on a regular basis in the future. This will encompass a wide variety of endeavours but all with the aim of continuing to spread the Pot Bellied Pigs message; developing rugby union and supporting underprivileged children.

This relationship is already well underway with a number of Pigs taking part in referring and coaching courses put on by the union. The individuals taking part in these courses will allow the Union and the Pigs to play a bigger part in growing rugby in Hong Kong. We will aim to support the growth of deaf rugby in Hong Kong as well as put on coaching sessions for children in Hong Kong. Keep your eyes peeled for our splendid kit!

Looking to the future the Pigs will help provide support and man power to the Union in developing rugby union in Hong Kong. There is already a number of plans underway to how we can support one another, watch this space!

If anyone wants to be more involved with the work of the Pigs and the Union in Hong Kong or abroad please get in touch through our website or Facebook page.