High-octane action from daybreak to dusk is on the cards during the first weekend of November, when a milestone 10th Cambodian Rugby Premiership season blasts off with the 10th International ANZ Royal Angkor 10s tournament at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium.
As is tradition, the first day of an exciting weekend on November 5 will be taken up by the Old Boys reunion, when over 35-year-old players get a chance to stretch their legs on the pitch for a few fun-filled minutes before drowning themselves in celebration later in the evening. The next day is all about scrums, scraps and searing runs as furiously paced rugby action takes full flight featuring 13 teams from seven countries including five home-grown outfits.
“This is the best we have seen in numbers and strength, and a reflection that rugby has come a long way in Cambodia and is set to grow,” acting Secretary General of the Cambodian Federation of Rugby Thomas Sterling told a well-attended news conference on Friday.
“The CFR is extremely heartened by the continued support of the federation’s platinum sponsors, ANZ Royal bank, along with a host of gold and silver sponsors,” he added. “An exciting season is ahead of us and there is no better way than kicking off with an international 10s event growing in popularity.”
Some of the sponsors stepping in this year are NagaWorld Hotel and Casino, Kingdom Breweries, Cambodia Capital, FORD RM Asia, The FCC, The Phnom Penh Post, TEAMS, International SOS, Sharky’s, Dan Meats and The Pickled Parrot.
“Entry is absolutely free for the public, and we would like to see more and more Cambodian people getting involved in rugby,” said Sterling. “The ANZ Royal Angkor 10s offers a rare rugby treat for both the involved as well as uninitiated. This is what makes this event unique and so exciting.”
Box Hill Unquenchable from Australia heads the list of foreign entries, with Singapore contributing INSEAD Barbarians and Bedok Kings RFC.
Saigon Geckos and Hanoi Dragons Rugby Union Football Club are two sides from neighbouring Vietnam, while Dubai Exiles, Manila Nomads and Southerners Rugby from Thailand complete the overseas components. Also in the fray are the Indochine Barbarians, a combined outfit from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and four local teams: PSE Garudas, Phnom Penh Pirates, Stade Khmer and Sisowath Knights.
Looking beyond the International 10s and the euphoria it will generate, Cambodian rugby is destined for a few new additions this year. A new Super 4 league is looking likely to take shape and an international Rugby Sevens tourney has been slated for April next year. The CFR's Gala Dinner has also been set for May 7 at NagaWorld, who have committed themselves to some sponsorship of the Federation on a one-year deal.