Tana Umaga? No, but he is a New Zealander. Sam Stewart, 35, a teacher at the Home of English in Phnom Penh, makes a valiant effort for the ball.
Five rugby teams from all over Asia competed in a tournament at the old Olympic Stadium
in Phnom Penh on September 20. Teams from as far away as Korea, Hong Kong and the
Philippines came to play in the grueling all-day match-up in the third annual Angkor
The Royal Rugby Club of Cambodia fielded two men's teams, the Garudas and Les Pilliers
d'Angkor, and one touch-rugby women's team, the Apsaras.
Stories of sportsmanship and valiant play abounded. The Hong Kong Pot Bellied Pigs,
who sang a rousing chorus of "Hokey Pokey" before each match, stormed the
field in lurid fluorescent uniforms.
A player from the Garudas, primarily a Khmer team, was pinned at the bottom of a
maul and carried off the field by a friend with a broken collarbone.
The Seoul Survivors, returning for their third Cambodian appearance, impressed the
crowds with their speed and finesse.
However, it was the Manila Nomads, favored to win the tournament, who ultimately
took first place. The Nomads won the final match against Les Piliers d'Angkor three
tries to one.
Tim Smyth, president of Les Piliers d'Angkor, heralded the tournament as a success
saying that "fun was had by all and the teams have pledged to return next year".
Ed Cropley, another player for the team, said that despite his team's loss, many
others, particularly "[the game of] rugby and Sharky's Bar" came out as
The stadium offered a few added amenities during the tournament. A well-utilized
bar was quickly set up, as well as a jacuzzi and physiotherapy center.
The tournament also brought attention to the Royal Rugby Club of Cambodia's junior
development league for children. Launched in 1999, it organizes rugby tournaments
for Cambodians all across the country. Every March, nine of the country's teams come
to Phnom Penh to compete in the national championships.
A player from the Manila Nomads takes the onslaught of the Royal Rugby Club of Cambodia head on.
A Les Piliers d'Angkor player reaches out to snag the ball away from the Hong Kong Pot Bellied Pigs during a 'line out' play.