Cambodia XV set to make international debut
May 8, 2005

Sunday May 22, 2005 will mark a historic chapter for the Cambodian Federation of Rugby (CFR) and for rugby development in Cambodia, as the Cambodian National Team will play its first ever international 15 a side test match in Hong Kong against the Macau national side.

The Cambodia-Macau encounter will serve as a "curtain raiser" to a Rugby World Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and Korea, which will follow later that day.

Although formal training for the Hong Kong match has been going on for well over a month, final team selections were only announced last week, with a 22 man roster being chosen. Players were drawn primarily from the teams that competed in the recently completed Senior Domestic 7 a side competition.

This isn't the first venture into international rugby for many of the selected players---a Cambodian national side competed in last October's Bangkok 7s tournament. However, Coach Hawea Tomoana makes it clear that his players will be facing a more difficult challenge with the 15s game in Hong Kong.

"Fifteen a side is a totally different kind of rugby from the sevens", he says, "It's a lot more physical, especially in the forward play and another big hurdle we face is coming to grips with the technical skills involved in this kind of game."

Tomoana admits he knows very little about the Macau side.

"I'm assuming they (Macau) are going to be bigger than us. So, we've got to focus on keeping the ball away from their forwards. Maintaining possession of the ball will be the key. It'll help us control the continuity of play, and hopefully we can then take advantage of our speed and mobility."

Tomoana, a New Zealand native long active in rugby development in Cambodia before being named the national coach in March, is pleased with the steady progress his team has made. "Enthusiasm is the strength of the team right now", he says.

After the test match in Hong Kong in Macau, the Cambodian National Team is scheduled to play the Lao National Team in a test match in Vientiane, Laos in late June. The match against Laos was originally scheduled for May 22 but was postponed due to the scheduling conflict with the Macau match.

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