For the first time in the history of Cambodian rugby, the Koupreys will storm the international sevens scene when the national team makes it to the 2013 HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series in Bangkok on September 21 and 22.
Entertainment and gaming sector giant NagaWorld will sponsor the team in an event involving 16 sides crammed with some of the region’s best in this truncated form of rugby.
“We are proud to support the national team in its epoch-making foray into sevens competition. It strengthens our firm belief that sports is among the most influential mediums in nation building,” NagaWorld marketing manager Yeo Wee Han told a media conference at the 3G Sports Centre yesterday.
“To the Koupreys and the Cambodian Federation of Rugby, I have this to say: We are with you and let us turn this opportunity into a lasting achievement.”
The 12-member Cambodian squad led by Vannak Vireak later received their official playing jerseys, which was unveiled by National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary General Vath Chamroeun.
Addressing the media, Vath Chamroeun characterised the national team’s trip to Thailand as a “huge step forward for Cambodian rugby”.
Welcoming NagaWorld’s staunch support for the federation since 2010, CFR secretary James Sterling, who will accompany the team as manager, said the Thailand Sevens experience will give the team a fantastic insight into the international scene.
Dan Wetherall has been named as the head coach with Jerome Alfonsi travelling with the team as a medic.
“Sevens is totally different from the regular 15s. Agility and pace are the most crucial elements. We have been training hard and I am confident the team will put up a good show,” Wetherall told the Post.
“We will play five matches in all over two days and that’s really tough, but we have pushed ourselves through pain barriers to be absolutely fit and eager to go.”
The squad composition is predominantly Cambodian with Ritchie Munro of Scotland being the only ex-pat in the line-up.
“Our key players are Vannak Vireak, Vannak Vong and Nheb Rotha,” added Wetherall.
The Koupreys will start the tournament in Division 2, playing against Uzbekistan, Laos and India. On the second day, they play off for final placings against two from the Elite group made up of Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, China, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Philippines and Singapore.
New junior rugby team launched
With the rapid growth of rugby in the Kingdom, a new club has emerged in Phnom Penh – the qb Leopards.
Comprising members of the CFR’s highly successful grassroots training program, which coaches kids from local NGO The Cambodian Children’s Fund, the Leopards will join the National Junior Rugby Championship later this year.