Jake Brookes shares his experience playing Rugby in Kuala Lumpur

After his debut season with Bath Rugby League on completion of the season Jake travelled to Kuala Lumpur to play for Kuala Lumpur Tigers (August 2019 – March 2020).

Kuala Lumpur is in Malaysia. Jake started a gap year working as a sports coach in an International School in KL, to play rugby and travel. I didn’t think that there would be much rugby played, but I was wrong. One of the teachers at the school put me in touch with the coach of Kuala Lumpur Tigers. Due to being 18 years old, I found I was eligible to play for the Under 18s, U 19s and the Senior Team (subject to being good enough).

Kuala Lumpur Tigers

Formed in 2014, Kuala Lumpur Tigers is home to more than 500 players across all of its playing groups and were the first official Global Partner Club of Leicester Tigers. The junior teams welcome boys and girls from as young as four for up to 18 years old, alongside the club’s senior men’s team, a veterans team and a women’s rugby team. They have players, coaches and volunteers from over 20 countries helping to run and support KL Tigers, the club prides itself as ‘a united nations of rugby’.

What was your experience and time with the team?

My debut was for the senior team against the state team called Selangor. This team was made up of the best players from the other teams in the state. This experience was really good for me because it was a big step up into the adult game from the U18s game that I was previously playing. I was playing at number 6 and managed to end up on the score sheet and I was delighted that we beat them.

As I was still 18 it allowed me to train and play with the U18 academy at first. In this period leading up to Christmas I played with the squad for a couple of games and in a tournament as a centre role. I was also training with the senior team on Tuesday and Thursday as well and also played a couple of warm up games for the senior team as they were leading up to the start of the MRL league start. The weather is hot and humid with lots smog, which meant that sometimes the training or games had to be cancelled. The grass is also different to pitches in England and when it rains becomes very boggy and difficult to run on.

Before the first game of the league I was selected to play for the U19s team in a tournament in Bangkok which I was excited about, but sadly around this time KL went into lockdown due to the spread of Covid 19 and rugby was suspended.

The first game of the MRL league I was selected to start at number 6 and this game was a success, as we were able to defeat the other team quite comfortably. This first game had set us up nicely and I was looking forward to continuing our run in the league and hopefully win it by the end of the run. Sadly, the league had to be stopped due to Covid19 and I had to return home. Overall I had an amazing time and also believe it was a fantastic experience for me. I hope to return at some point soon so I can continue playing for the club and hopefully finish the league with them.

What was the standard like in Malaysia?

The standard in Malaysia was a high level. This is because the city Kuala Lumpur is a very multicultural city which meant that there was a big ex pat community. Lot of English, Aussie, Kiwis and South Africans living in the country due to work. There were also a lot of strong Malaysian players as well even though football was more popular in the country. The National Team were trying to develop and one day hopefully be able to qualify for the World Cup as well as the 7s team have played in a couple tournaments against other nations around them.

What is the culture like in Malaysia?

The Malaysian people are generally relaxed and extremely kind people. The country is very hot and humid with temperatures normally over 30 degrees but at the same time in the rainy season the weather takes a complete change with it raining more in one day than it would in a month in the summer as well as the lightning and thunder that the country gets. Malaysia is a Muslim country but Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city so there were many places where we could grab a pint after the games.

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