THE Cambodian Federation of Rugby (CFR) announced Saturday the confirmed lineup of teams for the 2009 ANZ Royal Bank Angkor 10’s, which will be held on October 23-24 at the Olympic Stadium.
Twelve sides will compete in the main competition Saturday while four sides take part in a special Veterans (over 35) competition Friday, making it the largest field ever in the nine-year history of the tournament.
“We are excited that so many teams will be coming this year,” said Angkor 10’s Tournament co-Chair Peter Maley. “The Angkor 10’s has gained a reputation for being one of the best social rugby tournaments in Asia, with good fun and good rugby being played.”
The field includes sides from Dubai, France, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, along with local sides Sisowath Knights, Stade Khmer and defending tournament champions Les Piliers d’Angkor.
The tournament has also seen a dramatic increase in Cambodian participation. Over 40 local players took part last year, compared with none in the tournament’s first year in 2001, and just two in 2002. Maley estimates that between 50 and 60 Cambodians will be taking to the field this year.
Last year, Les Piliers d’Angkor – an all-Cambodian side primarily made up of players from defending Cambodian Rugby Premiership champions PSE Garudas – became the first side without foreigners to win an Angkor 10’s title, and will be a strong contender again this year.
They will be challenged by the Manila Nomads, the 2003 champions, who will be returning to the tournament after a four-year absence. Also in the running are 2006 winners, the French Asia Barbarians of France, and the Hong Kong-based Rhinos RFC, a touring side making its Angkor 10’s debut featuring players from several first-division Hong Kong clubs.
The main competition Saturday sees a 10-a-side format, as opposed to the 15-a-side matches of the standard Rugby Union. “The 10-a-side features a faster, more wide-open game, which makes it more entertaining for spectators,” noted Maley.
The Angkor 10’s also marks the unofficial kick-off of the Cambodian rugby season and is a key fundraising event for the CFR. The domestic season begins in November for its fifth edition, with the Cambodian Rugby Premiership for senior players along with competitions in junior and women’s divisions.
CFR President Tan Theany said the Angkor 10’s tournament plays an integral role in national rugby development. “Our players need this kind of international competition to improve their playing skills,” she remarked.
“The Angkor 10’s also helps to heighten interest in rugby and encourages more Cambodian young people to take up the sport and participate in our rugby clinics and schools. This will help increase our pool of players for selection to our men’s and women’s national teams.”