Celebrating the spirit of rugby: Déjà vu’s experience at the APAC Touch Rugby Charity Tournament 2019

The beauty of rugby is it can take a bunch of strangers and make an amazing team out them. The journey of Déjà vu was something like that – eight employees coming together on the field, mostly for the first time.

After winning the Societe Generale Global Solution Centre Touch Rugby Fundraising Tournament, Déjà vu qualified to represent Societe Generale Global Solution Centre in the charity, rugby matches in Hong Kong. The team had to raise Euro 3000 which would help the children of The Magic Bus Foundation experience the joy of rugby world cup 2019 in Japan.

The team carried out regular floor walks, spreading awareness about rugby, the fundraising matches and how rugby is so much more than just a game – it is a ‘gamechanger’ that helps many children gain access to a fulfilling life.

Game day approached leaving everyone in a tizzy – fundraising, game rules, trainings – the excitement grew as team Déjà vu got ready to leave for Hong Kong.

Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

You have arrived

The warm greeting at the Hong Kong airport made the entire experience a reality. Going from struggling to finish our matches through injuries in Bangalore, to arriving here to play against some of the best teams from 8 regions, it was truly a dream come true.

The team had already won so much and continued to play with three simple objectives, as Lionel outlines:

  • Do our best
  • Make the support we received worth it and try to progress as much as we could
  • Be proud of what we had accomplished thus far

dv 2With one of the rugby legends who has played rugby world cup in the past

Day 1

When we arrived at King’s Park, the first goal was to check out the competition – the teams were strong, well-coordinated and the level was far higher than what we had played in Bangalore. The heat and humidity on this Saturday made the weather conditions a very new one for the team coming from sunny India.

The Captain’s briefing shared important cascades to the teams including the match schedule – we had to get through a grueling six matches on day 1 alone! We kept ourselves hydrated, while our beloved coach from the HK Valley Club Sion Bennett motivated us to play to our strengths. Rugby legends Thomas Casteignede, Matt Giteau and Nick Hewson interacted with teams and shared important points that helped improve our game significantly.

Game 1:  5-0 win

Game 2: 1-0 win

Game 3: 7-1 win

Game 4: 3-1 win

Game 5: 6-0 win

Game 6: 2-1 win

Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

Six games, 6 victories – our team spirit, techniques and great coaching helped us win all games that we had to play on the extremely warm day 1. Our team scored the most tries during the pool games. We were relieved that we didn’t have any injuries on day 1. The icing on the cake during the dinner with all the teams, the performance of the Team Déjà vu was highly appraised and recognized by the rugby legends during a fireside chat – this made the experience even more unbelievable.

dv 3Ecstatic after the performance being recognized on stage by ex-rugby world cup players

 Day 2: Playing through a typhoon warning

We had qualified as one of the top 6 teams. This brought with it a lot of unexpected pressure, we were just a bunch of amateurs playing together after all. But no matter, we promised ourselves to do our best and enjoy the game.

The storm made visibility difficult and the weather oscillated between cold and colder. As we huddled under towels to stay warm, we knew we were up against some of the best teams at this tournament.

Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

We reminded ourselves of how far we have come and to continue to enjoy the spirit of rugby through this memorable experience.

Our first match was against a team from Australia which had a strong team. We held our defense after our first try and won by 1-0.


Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

This led us to the quarter final – the opponent was at a far superior level than us. We scored first but they quickly came back to 1-1. In the second half they scored twice. By the time we could redeem ourselves, the match was over.

Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

Overall, we played a very good tournament and we are proud of what we achieved during the week end.  We are part of the 6 best teams of Asia out of 26. This was amazing as rugby is not popular in India. This experience however proved that if you have never played before if you have a good team, great values, are rigorous, determined and organized, you can achieve great things together!

Societe Generale Touch Rugby Charity Tournment Hong Kong 2019

As Remy reiterates, “The experience was unforgettable, we went through an exciting journey of rugby and team spirit. In spite of not having rugby players in the team and difficult weather conditions (rain and heavy temperature) everyone was playing together and had wonderful results. The rugby challenge was above all a human adventure to play for the children and with an incredible team.”

Sneha shares her experience, “FABULOUS – this was a combination of great team spirit, interesting people, true rugby values – all of it to support one noble cause. The three days were very well organized.”

Heena describes these three days, “An exhilarating experience! The atmosphere was electrifying and the interactions with all the teams across various countries were superb! It is one of the best memories that I will carry for a long time!”

It’s not every day that we get amazing opportunities like these, especially through sport. Many teams asked us why the name déjà vu – the name represented our win as a team, four years ago. How even back then, employees came together, some of them as strangers; to simply enjoy what rugby offers – priceless memories and life changing experiences! We thank every one of the people involved in making this dream a reality for us. We hope to keep the rugby spirit alive and share what it has given us.

Team Déjà vu (The feeling that we have won before!) – Lionel Cortey Dumont, Remy Ramirez, Manohar C Narayana Rao, Jatinder Salwan, Keshava Basappa, Heena Kampani, Sneha Poovanna & Sushantika Shankarnarayan

Authored by

Lionel Cortey-Dumont


Lionel Cortey Dumont –  New member of the rugby team Déjà Vu, passionate about sports and playing rugby for the first time.



Sushantika S

Sushantika Shankarnarayan – Captain, team Deja Vu. Member of the Bangalore Rugby & Football club, she has been associated with rugby for over 10 years. She also founded the women’s rugby club at Societe Generale Global Solution Centre & managed it with other employees.



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