Kolkata the "City of Joy" played host over the weekend of 19/20 November 2005 to the first ever international tens competition in India . The venue was the East Bengal football ground in the heart of the city within the grounds of the 100+ acre Maidan. The Maidan was originally created 100 years ago to provide clear firing lines for the adjoining Fort William . Over the years it has seen political rallies of 100,000, festivals of every type and prayer meetings for every religion. In the tournament the Indian Army maintained their centuries old tradition of owning and protecting the Maidan with an outstanding performance that won them the Main Cup Competition.
The LSC Kolkata Tens brought together 12 teams from across Kolkata and India and included a team from the UK representing the title sponsors London School of Commerce. With the field made up from teams of varying abilities and experience the format was designed to give every team a couple of introductory games and sort out good semi finals and well matched finals. The plan went well with the finals seeing the Army matched up against visitors London School of Commerce, in the plate Armenian College met Orissa and in the bowl La Martiniere Old Boys (LMOB) took on Sagar Island .
The semi finals for the plate and main tournament saw some of the top Kolkata teams fall by the wayside. In the main trophy Young Rugby Club were run ragged by the superior skills and strength of the London School of Commerce in a 26-0 encounter. The other semi saw the Army matched up against Future Hope. Future Hope are known for their skill and ability but in the end the superior fitness and organisation of the Army saw them through 12-5. In one of the tightest semi's the Jungle Crows (who were the organisers of the tournament) were up against Kolkata's Armenian College . After losing their scrum half and coach through injury midway through the second half the Crows lost their momentum and conceded a couple of easy tries at the end losing out 15-5.
Immediately before the finals an under-14 exhibition match took place between students of Ashalayam who have been taking part in a Jungle Crows training programme. The students of Ashalayam are from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds with most of them living at one time on Kolkata's train stations or streets. The Crowd gave the youngsters a tremendous welcome and some of the most vocal support of the weekend.
The Bowl final saw LMOB, one of Kolkata's longest established teams up against the newest team in India Sagar Island . Sagar Island is a remote island at the end of India 's Hooghly River in the heart of the Sunderbans delta on the Bay of Bengal . The Jungle Crows have been coaching the boys of Sagar Island for about four months and for most of them this was their first trip to Kolkata. In the end LMOB's experience saw them beat crowd favourites and underdogs Sagar Island 24-5.
The tightest final saw Orissa and Armenian College face up in the plate final. Only one score settled it with the Armenian College driving over a single try to take the plate 5-0. The Armenian College performance was further recognised with their second row forward, Ejme, being awarded player of the tournament.
The final match of the LSC Kolkata Tens was between LSC London and the Army. The LSC team had been depleted by injury and after two days of intense activity were beginning to feel the jet lag! The Army had fitness on their side and though the LSC players tried to throw the ball around they found it difficult to make a scoring breakthrough. The LSC's attempt to play an expansive sevens style won them the fans support but the Army's organisation brought them a series of scores. Within 5 minutes the Army were up three tries to nil. A late first half surge from LSC saw them put a score on the board but the second half carried on much as before with the Army in control. In the end it was a comfortable 35-12 win that brought the Army the first Kolkata Tens title.
The Kolkata Tens provided a great end of season boost to the rugby community in India . It also made an excellent warm-up and backdrop to the India Under-19 camp which has now started in Kolkata in advance of the India under-19 teams tour to Pakistan in December.