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Khmer rugby is winner on the day

Khmer rugby is winner on the day

Cambodian team clinches Angkor 10s title for first time

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Stade Khmer players pile onto Tyron Edgar (#02) of the Billabong Sharks during their Angkor 10s match at Old Stadium on Saturday. 


Les Piliers d'Angkor beat the Billabong Sharks.
Lach Sopheara and Out Vuthy scored a try each in Saturday's Angkor 10s final at Old Stadium, fighting back from a 0-5 deficit after Sun Malen scored first for the Billabong Sharks.

CENTRE Out Vuthy picked up a loose ball and dashed in to score three minutes into "sudden death" extra time, giving Les Piliers d'Angkor a 10-5 victory over the Billabong Sharks in the Cup Final of the ANZ Royal Angkor 10s rugby tournament Saturday afternoon at the Phnom Penh Old Stadium.

It was an historic win by Les Piliers, marking the first time an all-Khmer side has won a championship trophy in the eight-year history of the 10-a-side tournament.  

The team, made up mostly of players from the Koupreys, the Cambodian men's national side, breezed through the preliminary rounds of the day-long tournament before facing the Billabong Sharks in the final.  

The Sharks, a local club side featuring a mix of Khmer and expatriate players, took a 5-0 lead shortly before the end of the first half. Winger Sun Malen took a pass from a ruck and scampered in untouched for the try from 20 metres out.

Early in the second half, Les Piliers levelled the score at 5-5 with a try by centre Lach Sopheara from 15 metres out.   

Both teams had a chance to win in the closing minutes of regulation time. Les Piliers twice drove deep into opposition territory late in the game, only to have their efforts stymied by costly penalties.

The Sharks had their best opportunity to win with less than a minute left in regulation with a 15m penalty kick attempt.  But fly half Greg Eggins' boot sailed just wide of the mark, forcing extra time.

This is a great achievement for our players. I am very proud of them.

Great strides
Cambodian Federation of Rugby Philippe Monnin said the performance of the all-Khmer side demonstrated the great strides that have been made in Cambodian rugby development.

"When the [Angkor 10s] began in 2001, we had no Khmer players participating.  Then in 2002 we had two," said Monnin. "Each year we had more players participating, but this year is the first time an all-Khmer side has won this international tournament.

"This is a great achievement for our players. I am very proud of them."

Vong Vannak of Les Piliers was awarded the FCC Player of the Tournament award.

"Playing against foreign players and international clubs in a tournament like this is important for me. It helps me a lot to improve my playing techniques," said the  fleet-footed 24-year-old, who is a starting flanker for the Koupreys.

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Phnom Penh Post CEO Michel Dauguet (left) presents the Plate trophy to the captain of the French Asia Barbarians "A" team. 

Other trophy games

  • The French Asia Barbarians "A" side captured the Phnom Penh Post Plate trophy by outlasting last year's Cup champions, the Bedok Kings of Singapore, 17-10.  
  • The Dubai Exiles won the Bowl trophy by defeating the French Asia Barbarians "B' side 12-5.
  • Stade Khmer, another all-Khmer team, defeated the Phnom Penh Renegades  22-5 to capture the Golden Cow trophy.
  • In the Angkor Old Boys (over 35) Tournament held on Friday, AOCOUS of Toulouse, France, captured the championship trophy, with the French Asia Barbarian Old Boys in second place.

The tournament's principal sponsor was ANZ Royal Bank, with additinoal support from The Phnom Penh Post, TEAMS, Dan Meats, the FCC and Sharky Bar.  

"Without their help, this tournament would not have been possible," tournament organiser Peter Maley said.

Ray Leos is the director of media relations for the Cambodia Federation of Rugby. He also played for the Billabong Sharks during Saturday’s Angkor 10s tournament.


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