Memories of Jakarta Bantengs Brother Craig Senger


THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CRAIG…

By: Bobby Orlando.
Chairman
Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club

It was about 18 months ago that the Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club first came across this “bule”, or in other words, another white man wanting to play rugby with the Bantengs… Our friend and then current player, another “bule” Glen Fischer first introduced us all to him. One aussie introducing another, “guys this is my mate, Craig Senger”… There and then, I knew it was the beginning of our friendship or in Banteng terms our “brotherhood” enriched by one Craig Senger…

At first glance I wasn’t too impressed by his physique, at all. He claimed to have played rugby back home, but I tell you what he didn’t look the fittest. Mind you neither did, or should I say do I. So I asked him, “Craig, how’s your fitness?” he so innocently replied, “Bobby, I’m as unfit as F@!*, but mate I’ll have a go”. This is the type of attitude that Craig brought to the Bantengs, his willingness to have a go, do the best you can do and be happy with your efforts. It didn’t matter whether we ended up winning the game or not; it didn’t matter how big our opponents were; what mattered was how big we played and if we gave it everything we had. Craig’s demeanor spread throughout the club rapidly, his pleasant, low profile style made it so easy for the other boys to accept him as our brother.

Let me tell you that many “bules” have come and gone in the Banteng rugby Club, but none of them came close to ever having Craig’s down-to-earth, friendly and caring approach. This was certainly evident both on and off the rugby pitch. I often wondered if Craig was too nice a guy to play rugby. But my thoughts were proven wrong, this lad from the land down under could certainly line up any opposition and let them know who they were playing against. And with his own unique running style, he made a good 10 meters or so every time he ran the ball up. Back to his running style, he also brought laughter to all watching the game with his unique running style!!

One significant point to note about Craig was that he is the only Banteng to date that never, ever turned up for training but would get a jersey on a Saturday and play. So there really is something about Craig. Because as the Chairman of the JBRC, I was and still am very adamant that no matter how good you are, or think you are, if you don’t turn up on a Wednesday night and train, you simply don’t play on Saturday. But with Craig it was different. That bugger always got a jersey and ran on, very often in the first 15 line up!! I love the way he used to come up with his excuses, “Bobby, I swear to GOD I was planning to come last Wednesday, I brought my gear to work, told the Mrs. I’d be late home, but mate something came up!!” Classic, but that was our brother Craig.

There’s something about Craig that made you accept him right there on the spot; made you feel comfortable with the guy; and definitely made you feel like a real human being. That was Craig. Our friend, our brother. It didn’t matter what socio-economic background you had, whether you had a tonne of money or just a guy that wanted to learn to play rugby, Craig made you feel wanted and welcome. He not only helped develop rugby within the JBRC, but holistically developed the true meaning of rugby for all Indonesians to appreciate and have a go. Goodbye my friend, goodbye my brother, your legacy will live long and strong through our brotherhood, the BANTENG BROTHERHOOD!!

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And On The Field You Will Find a Friend… (RIP Craig Senger)
By: Tito Vau
JBRC Secretary

I can’t say I knew too much about Craig Senger. Details about his life such as his wife’s name, where he was born and where he lived in Jakarta only became known to me after his tragic death, at the hands of a suicide bomber last Friday. I didn’t know his favourite colour, what bands he liked to listen to or what books he enjoyed reading. But from the half dozen or so times I talked to him, there is no other way to describe him other than as a friend.

I first met Craig under the player’s tent at the 2008 Jakarta 10’s (Rugby Union Tournament). I had just restarted playing rugby with The Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club after a 20-year break (yes, 20…) and I was a bit nervous about taking the field again. The will was there but I secretly wondered if my out-of-shape body could take it. And then I saw Craig.

He looked around my age, similar physique with a tummy the size his chest should be and vice-versa. We introduced each other and he resonated with sheer delight at the mere possibility of getting a run on the field. “Oh, I might get a run if I’m lucky…” he told me, “it’s just a good day out with the boys, mate…”

I was immediately encouraged and utterly enjoyed that day to its fullest. Craig and I chatted about his wife who was coming back from Hong Kong and how he wanted to get back early to see her. Of course, he stayed for the free Mongolian BBQ and team ‘refreshments’ before he finally made a move and when he finally left his face was red with joy and he was smiling from ear to ear. He’d made some decent breakthroughs and without a doubt, he’d given it his all on the field.

I’d asked him why he played with the Jakarta Banteng, which was made up of 95% local players and why he wasn’t playing with the arguably better expatriate teams. “I wouldn’t play with any other team, mate. It’s a chance to understand and also share what I’ve got with the local boys”, was Craig’s answer.

Now Craig was a more experienced player than most of the Banteng boys, but I had doubts that he meant it from an exclusively athletic point of view. His perspective was that by playing with a local team, he could show people that sports and camaraderie transcended any superficial differences. He talked about getting his friends from Australia to help develop rugby and in the same breath explained that they would thoroughly enjoy the Indonesian experience. He’d seen and experienced both sides of the coin and realised that, well, it was the same coin.

Craig had a funny run and he rarely turned up to training but by hook or by crook, he would do his all to try and play on matchday. Besides rugby, he also enjoyed playing Aussie Rules but I’m certain that his motivation for participating in both sports while in Jakarta went beyond his love for sports. I think Craig loved people.

He was always there to ‘shout’ the lads for a cold one after games (big bottles too!). He played tricks on team mates and laughed at them and with them just as heartily as he would laugh at himself when the joke was on him. He would try to speak Indonesian and get things so muddled up that we would beg him to just speak English because we could understand him better. All the while, if people mentioned his name, an image of his smiling face would always pop up in your mind.

The last game he played with the Bantengs was against the Bandung Rams and Craig was a starter. He was so keen that after he’d been replaced in the second half, he wanted to go back in and finish the last 12 minutes. We talked over refreshments afterwards and he said that his work was now taking him on trips across Indonesia and although he would miss the rugby, he really enjoyed seeing and experiencing the country beyond Jakarta.

There are billions of people in the world and a tiny, miniscule amount of them are so bitter that they justify hate against their fellow man. They choose to see the differences and refuse to recognise all the wonderful things that make us one human race, regardless of colour or creed.

I believe that Craig knew this but he was not about to let himself become one of these people. So Craig worked and played, he lived and loved in the simplest and yet to the fullest that he knew how.

In rugby, the highest points are gained from a ‘try’ and no matter who crosses the line you know that the other 14 players on your team will share your joy with you because they know that on the field, everyone played a part. Together…

Craig tried. He showed people by example that trying and effort and enjoying life as it comes your way is the best way to live it. Forget the differences and focus on similarities. By golly, you might not always win but you’ll enjoy yourself for sure.

We will miss your wobbly run, your mischievous smile and your solid five-meter breakthroughs…

But we will remember you Craig, mate…

For being a terrific team-mate, a rugby brother and above all, a good man.

Rest In Peace, Brother…


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