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Rugby team set for world stage

Rugby team set for world stage

Cambodia's national rugby team will enter the realm of world rugby May 22 when the

players travel to Hong Kong for their first international match.

The 22-strong squad are facing Macau in a curtain raiser for the Rugby World Cup

qualifying match between Hong Kong and Korea.

The team has been training intensely for the past two months, and coach Hawea Tomoana

hopes the players' speed and mobility will be enough to tire out the Macau national

team, who he assumes will be bigger.

"Enthusiasm is the strength of the team right now," he says.

Macau has only played one previous international match, which they won convincingly

against Pakistan last year, an admirable feat for a team without a home field to

train or play on.

The match will be a reward for the progress made over the past five years since a

small group of rugby-mad expatriates introduced the sport to Cambodia.

Began as an NGO program for children living near the Stung Meanchey rubbish dump,

rugby was so popular that Tan Theany, the Secretary-General of the National Commission

of UNESCO, incorporated the sport into Cambodian schools.

Theany, now also the president of the Cambodian Federation of Rugby, says the sport

is ideal for youth to learn to communicate, co-operate, organize and respect the


"The qualities required in rugby are favourites of the Khmer people who are

fond of fighting, challenging and running," Theany says. "The youngsters

have immediately adopted the sport even before knowing all the subtleties of the


After the Hong Kong match, the team will return and focus on their next international

game against Laos, scheduled for late June in Vientiane.

Two expatriate teams will aslo travel to Laos to compete in the Indochina Cup


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