Back in 2003, I had a chance to play alongside Willy Ellison in the 2003 Bali Rugby 10’s. That weekend we both played for a team called the Bali Memories which was organised by the late Alan Nye to remember the 27 Rugby players and supporters killed in the Bali Bombings the year before.

Willy Cup Dusted Off To Help Encourage Women's Rugby (2)

Willy impressed me on the pitch with a hard-nosed country boy attitude given that he was a cattleman from Australia’s Northern Territory. After a tough day on the rugby pitch where Willy in particular was hammered thanks to the infamous ‘Jakarta’ call, we all headed out that night for a few drinks to lessen the pain and remember our lost friends. Later that night I can remember dropping Willy back to his hotel where he stayed with his new girlfriend.

Fast forward to June 19, 2004 and once again I gathered with my rugby friends. This time it was in Jakarta and a group of us gathered at Sportsmen’s Bar to watch the Wallabies play England. Willy was there watching the match with us and just before fulltime he introduced us to his new partner, Priscilla Hall. Willy seemed so happy in his new relationship and the last thing I remember him telling our group was that he and Priscilla were going skydiving the next day south of Jakarta. The following Monday morning I was on the way to work when I was phoned by Andy Vater who conveyed to me the tragic news that Willy and Priscilla had been involved in a light plane accident and that both had been lost along with three Indonesians.

Once again our small Jakarta Rugby community was in mourning for lost friends but as is common in our game, we all pulled together and the Willy Ellison Memorial Cup or “Willy Cup” as it is better known was dreamed up by Alan Nye and others. The first ever “Willy Cup” was played in July 2004 at the KPC Coal Mine in East Kalimantan between the Sangatta Hornbills and the ISCI (now Jakarta Komodos) Rugby Club. KPC hosted two more “Willy Cup’s” in 2005-06 and a fourth match was played in Balikpapan in 2007. Unfortunately for the past 9 years the “Willy Cup” has sat on a shelf gathering dust at the Fez Bar in south Jakarta, rather than being contested for by teams as was planned back in 2004 when Indonesian Rugby was founded.

Apart from being dedicated to the memory of Willy Ellison, the “Willy Cup” was also inaugurated to help promote the development of the game in Indonesia. This year I have been very impressed by the efforts of Tai Marshall and her husband Tim to develop a Women’s Rugby Team in Bali. When I heard that the Jakarta Bantengs Women’s Rugby Team would be touring Bali to participate in the annual Bali Rugby Festival (previously the Bali 10’s) I thought that this would be an ideal opportunity to dust off the “Willy Cup” and have these two development teams contest for the Cup in the place that I first met Willy Ellison.

Willy Cup Dusted Off To Help Encourage Women's Rugby (1)

Following a closely fought match the Bali Women’s Rugby Team, or the Chillettes as they are known, run out victors in the “2016 Willy Cup”. Following the match I explained to the Bali Team that the trophy will need to be played for in 2017 and beyond in a “Ranfurly Shield”-like competition in order to encourage Women’s Rugby development throughout Indonesia.

Women’s Rugby is coming along leaps and bounds in Indonesia since I started working with a group of young women from the Mama Sayang Orphanage in early 2013. For the first couple of years these were the only ladies regularly training each week thanks to Alan Nye and his son David through their company Britmindo providing training kits and boots for the girls. This was followed by the Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) who generously sponsored the team. These young ladies since mid-2014 have become known as the Jakarta Komodos Women’s Rugby Team and these days are also backed by Britcham’s Give Kids a Sporting Chance Foundation.

I am sure that you can all see through reading this article how that last get-together that we had with Willy and Priscilla formed a unique connection and I hope that through the “Willy Cup”, this connection continues for many years to come so that Women’s Rugby grows and many more get to love life and love rugby just as Willy and Priscilla did during their lives.

Stephen Barber

Stephen Barber

Born into a rugby-loving family, Stephen has always been passionate about the game. He played for the University of Queensland before a 2-year stint playing in New Zealand. In 2004, Stephen and his friends founded Indonesian Rugby. He still remains a loyal servant of Indonesian Rugby today and was honoured as a life member of the Union in 2013. Stephen is Head of International Relations of Persatuan Rugby Union Indonesia and has been NOW! Jakarta’s rugby contributor since 2008.