Exceeding all expectations, the Shining Rahus, the newly formed Phnom Penh social rugby club, left a remarkable imprint on their debut in this year’s Indochine Cup, the symbol of regional supremacy, at the RMIT grounds in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday with the Rahus 10s contact team going down to Saigon Geckos 47-7 in the final.
But the six-a-side touch rugby team exacted revenge, beating the Geckos 2-1 for the title in an enthralling showdown.
Just a missed conversion had separated Rahus from Geckos in their 5-7 defeat in the league phase, but the Saigon side turned in a far superior show in the 10s finals.
The Rahus picked themselves up by comfortably beating Yangon Dragons before fighting hard to down Hanoi Dragons 12-7 in the final group game to set up the cup climax against the unbeaten Geckos, who were on the look-out for their third straight triumph.
Captain Ricardo Maria was a standout performer for the Rahus as he led from the front with his exemplary play, commitment and leadership. The team as a whole rallied well behind him both on the field and in spirit.
The script was more or less the same but for the final outcome with the touch rugby side made up of several Cambodian female players who train with PSE and are coached by rugby-promoting NGO Kampuchea Ballop.
After losing to Geckos in the round robin, the Phnom Penh side sidelined Yangon and Hanoi to set up a title fight with Saigon, eventually coming out winners, depriving the Geckos of their fourth victory.
Rahus player-manager Fabien Dutasta said: “For our first tour we prepared well but didnt expect to reach the finals, living proof, indeed, that adult rugby in Cambodia can play a major role in the region with both local and expat players and deserves more support to grow in the future,’’ Dutasta said.