The Angkor 10s Rugby Tournament kicks off its ninth edition this weekend with an Old Boys tourney on Friday and the main event Saturday featuring both locals and teams from abroad
Friday October 23
- Angkor Old Boys (over 35s)
1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturday October 24
Preliminary Rounds 8:00am – 12:00pm
Semifinal Round Games 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Pickled Parrot Egg 11th/12th playoff – 2:30pm
CFR Spoon 9th/10th playoff – 3:00pm
Dan Meats Shield 7th/8th playoff – 3:30pm
TEAMS Bowl 5th/6th playoff – 4:00pm
Final Phnom Penh Post Plate 3rd/4th playoff – 4:30pm
Final ANZ Royal Bank Cup 1st/2nd playoff - 5:00pm
SIXTEEN teams featuring hundreds of rugby players from across the globe converge in Phnom Penh this weekend for the ANZ Royal Bank Angkor 10’s Rugby Tournament, playing this year at the Olympic Stadium.
Now in its ninth year, the tournament serves as the unofficial kickoff for the Cambodian rugby season and is also a major fundraising event for the Cambodian Federation of Rugby (CFR) and its youth development programs.
Action at Olympic Stadium gets underway today at 1:30pm with the Angkor Old Boys, a special competition for rugby players aged 35 years and over. Teams from Australia, Thailand, and Cambodia are scheduled to take part.
The main event kicks off Saturday from 8:00am with a preliminary round match between Les Piliers d’Angkor, the all-Cambodian side which are defending tournament champions, and Rhinos RFC, a touring side comprised of players from top rugby clubs from across Asia.
A 10-a-side format will be employed in the Saturday competition, as opposed to the usual 15-a-side format of rugby union, which according to Tournament co-Chair Peter Maley, should make for a more exciting day for fans. “It’s a more wide-open game with a lot more running, which should make it fun to watch from a spectator’s perspective,” he said.
“I can’t wait to get started,” remarked Les Piliers forward Chey Sophal, who toils for PSE Garudas during the Cambodian Rugby Premiership season, and has also represented the Cambodian national team, the Koupreys, 14 times. “[The Angkor 10s] is a good way for us to get ready for the upcoming season, and playing against big foreign guys will be a challenge for us as always,” Chey Sophal added. “It will be hard, but I’m confident we can win again this year and keep the Cup in Cambodia.”
Along with the Rhinos, foreign teams set to contend include 2006 Cup and 2008 Plate champions, the French Asia Barbarians from France; last year’s Bowl champions, the Dubai Exiles; and 2003 Cup champs, the Manila Nomads. The Bangkok Bangers and Bangkok Southerners from Thailand, along with the Bedok Kings of Singapore and the Saigon Geckos of Vietnam, could also cause an upset.
Besides Les Piliers d’Angkor, other local clubs competing include Cambodian Rugby Premiership rivals Stade Khmer and the Sisowath Knights.
With its roster featuring an intriguing mix of lightning-fast Cambodian backs and sturdy veteran French forwards, Stade Khmer could emerge as the dark horse to win the tournament.
Stade Khmer club president Guilain Lavoisier says his club has been training regularly for several weeks. “We have been getting over 30 players turning up for our [training] sessions,” he said. “We are looking forward to Saturday.”
Stade Khmer’s first match is set for 8:20 am against the Manila Nomads.
Sisowath Knight coach Brian Thomas is guardedly optimistic about his team’s chances, but worries that recent injuries to some key players will have an impact on his side’s performance.
“Because of injuries and other things, our training numbers haven’t been very good,” admitted the veteran Sisowath boss. “But we still have some good players left, and if everybody steps up, we’ll be OK.”
The Knights will open against the Saigon Geckos at 8:40 am.
Preliminary round games Saturday will continue throughout the morning, with semifinals set to go off at noon, and final round matches from 2:30pm. Results of preliminaries and semifinals determine which teams play in which playoff finals, with corresponding trophies for each playoff (see right).
The tournament’s last match of the day, the ANZ Cup Final, will kickoff at 5:00 pm. Admission to all events at Olympic Stadium is free.