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Knights storm Stade Khmer

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A Stade Khmer player is tackled as he goes for a kick during their rugby season opener at the Old Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

The Cambodian Federation of Rugby’s 2012-13 season began on Saturday at the Old Stadium with reigning champions the Sisowath Knights running amok over a hapless Stade Khmer team.

The Knights came out very strong, dominating almost every scrum and winning nearly all the line-outs, and it wasn’t until they were in a comfortable lead which was never threatened throughout the game.

Eleven tries, three of them from top scorer Rowdie Loughlin, and six conversions later in the game ended 67-0 in favour of the Knights. Stade Khmer could just not compete with the speed and physicality of their rivals.

At half-time, Stade Khmer coach Guilain Brasset told his men: “It’s only the beginning of the season; we have five new players. Let’s try to give everything we have and win the second half.”

The Knights, however, were in no mood to relinquish their control.

“The reason we won today was because of our very strong forward pack, our dominance in scrums and our big, fast backs,” Loughlin, a sports teacher at the iCan British International School, told the Post.

“Stade Khmer have a lot of raw talent that shows potential and will be formed over the next few years.”

Knights player Dan Wetherall, who is also an official at the Cambodian Federation of Rugby (CFR), highlighted their front-row forward Somrach as a major reason for their success.

“He did extremely well today,” said Wetherall, adding that they had recruited very well this year and, with additions from the Cambodian Eagles Aussie Rules Football team, were in a good position to challenge the Saigon Geckos in the ANZ Royal Super 4 League.

Before the season opener, the CFR held a tournament for kids called RESPECT – Good Men in Rugby, featuring around 250 students from five separate schools and organisations.

The goal of the event was to make a contribution to end violence against women by promoting gender equitable behaviour among men.

The RESPECT tournament included different stations where youngsters could learn about gender equality in a playful manner. There was also a Rugby Sevens women’s match, an U15s boys’ match and a small tournament between the teams.

“The RESPECT event was a great success. We want to build a strong rugby community in Cambodia – on and off the field,” said CFR development officer Jean-Baptiste Suberbie.

“This also requires gender equality. A lot of kids became interested in rugby and the lessons they learned today will hopefully remain in their minds.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Derbuc at christophderbuc@aol.com

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