- Lebanon national rugby league team
Infobox rugby league nation
Name = Lebanon
Badge = Lebanon National RL.jpg
Badge_size = 100px
Nickname = The Cedars
Association = Lebanese Rugby League
Coach = Darren Maroon
Captain = flagicon|Lebanon
Hazem El Masri
Home Stadium =
International Olympic Stadium
RLIF Rank = 8th
Most caps = ?
Top try-scorer = ?
Top point-scorer = ?
First game = flagicon|Japan Japan 28 - 52 Lebanon flagicon|Lebanon (
Tokyo, Japan; 1998)
Largest win = flagicon|Morocco Morocco 0 - 104 Lebanon flagicon|Lebanon (
Perpignan, France; 1999)
Largest loss = flagicon|Russia Russia 80 - 0 Lebanon flagicon|Lebanon (
Moscow, Russia; 28 September 2008)
World cup apps = 1
World cup first = 2000
World cup best = Round 1, 2000
The Lebanon national rugby league team represent
Lebanonin international rugby leaguetournaments. They are nicknamed "The Cedars" after the Lebanon Cedartree, which is also on the nations flag. The team has been participating in international competition since 1998and have quickly became one of the best teams in the Northern Hemisphere. The team was originally formed in New South Wales, Australiaand comprised of players with Lebanese background. But their success has helped the game grow in Lebanon and now players are also taken from the newly formed Lebanon Championshipas well as the National Rugby Leaguein Australia.
The team played in the 2000 World Cup, having defeated the USA to get there. But they failed in getting out of the group stages, despite a draw against the Cook Islands in
Cardiffand a 24-22 defeat against Wales in Llanelli. The Cedars then attempted to qualify for the 2008 World Cup but lost their group to Ireland and finally losing the repechage final to Samoa. In other competitions they have been more successful. They have taken part in the Mediterranean Cupand have won it in every year it has been played. In 2006they won the Phoenician Cup by beating Malta.
Currently the team are ranked eighth in the world, behind Papua New Guinea. In the more up to date European rankings they are ranked third, behind World Cup qualifyers England and France, but they are ahead of Wales, Russia and Serbia.
Darren Maroonoccupies the position of head coach and Hazem El Masriis captain.
2000 World Cup
Initially the Lebanese players were all Australian born or raised and came mostly from inner-city
Sydney. They started playing full internationals in 1998and in there first match thrashed Japan in Tokyo. This got them a place in Mediterranean Pool for qualification to the 2000 World Cup. In there first game they defeated Italy 36-16, and then thrashed Morocco 104-0. In this match, captain Hazem El Masri scored a total of 48 points, the highest amount of points ever scored by one player in an international match. To qualify they had to beat the Pacific Rim Pool winners, the USA. They won easily, the final score being 62-8 and so secured the final place in the World Cup.
The Cedars were in a pool with favourites New Zealand, Wales and Cook Islands. The team were well beaten against New Zealand in
Gloucester, where there were ferocious winds and rain. Head coach John Eliassaid after the game that his team were simply out of their depth. However Lebanon did much better in the match against Wales. It wasn't until Wales had scored four tries that Lebanon had finally got on the score board with a Michael Coorey try in the 35th minute. In the second half Lebanon performed much better, but two late Hassan Salehtries left Lebanon losing 24-22. By far the easiest game on paper was the match against the Cook Islands. With just five minutes remaining though, The Cedars found themselves 22-10 down, before Hazem El Masri scored a second try and centre Hassan Saleh scored one too in last minute to seal a 22-22 draw for Lebanon. This point was enough to keep them off bottom place in the group, but they had done enough to earn a place in the Quarter Finals.
2002, Lebanon beat France 36-6 in Tripoli to clinch the Mediterranean Cupfor a second time. In 2003played host to another Mediterranean Cup with Lebanon beating France again in final, albeit this was a much closer match at 26-18 with Wissam El Masrionly fully securing the win in the last minute. In the final Mediterranean Cup in 2004, Lebanon made it three voctories in a row. Just like last year's cup, they easily beat Morocco and Serbia to face the French in the final again. France trailed 30-8 at half time but in the second half it was a much tighter affair with Toufiq Nicolasand a third Ahmed Al Masritry finally sealing a 42-14 victory for Lebanon despite a late consolation try for France. It is also worth noting that a young Thomas Boscfeatured in that match for France. He would then go on to play in the 2007 Challenge Cup Final.
2008 World Cup
Despite wanting to host another Mediterranean Cup in
2005, Lebanon did not play another international until November 2006. With a place in the 2008 World Cup up for grabs, Lebanon were drawn in a group with Russia and Ireland. In Darren Maroons first match as head coach, Lebanon beat Russia 22-8 in a tight and tense match at the New River Stadiumin North London. Ireland however had already thrashed Russia beforehand and so Lebanon needed to beat Ireland in Dublin to go top of the table. Centre Daniel Chihacrossed over the line after 13 minutes, but the conversion was missed. John Koborsithen extended the lead for Lebanon and the team went into half time 0-10 up. However within 6 minutes after half-time, Ireland had scored two tries and they were now in front. A little later Chris Salemthen intercepted a ball near his own line and ran the whole length of the pitch to score a spectacular try. This lead didn't last though and in the last minutes of the game Ireland scored a try to end the game 18-18. In 2007the World Cup qualifying matches continued. In October the team travelled to Moscowand put nine-tries past Russia to win 0-48. This meant that their last match against Ireland was crucial. Because Ireland had a significantly better points difference then Lebanon, The Cedars needed a win to qualify, a draw or a narrow defeat was simply not good enough. At the end of the Russia match, despite the easy victory, Darren Marroon said that the team must make big improvements if they were to beat the Irish. Due to the volatile situation in Lebanon, The Cedars had to play their "home tie" in Dewsbury, England. A George Ndairatry in the first half meant that Lebanon went into half time on the wrong end of a 12-4 scoreline. Chris Salemimmeadiately scored a try after the interval though and Lebenan were back in the game. In the 63rd minute prop Charlie Nohrawas sent off, leaving Lebanon with 12 men and a huge upward struggle. Frank Samiascored a converted try near the end of the match and so Lebanon were ahead for the first time in the match. In the last minute the two points were taken away as a high-tackle gave Ireland a penalty which they scored to end the game 16-16. Lebanon had not done enough to secure a place in the World Cup.
But because they had finished, they went into a repechage match with three other teams, Wales, USA and Samoa. They faced Wales first and won that match in
Widnes, England. In took along time for Lebanon too actually take the lead for the first time in the match, but in the second half Lebanon were much stronger than Wales and eventually posted nine tries, including three by Chris Salem, against Wales' five. This victory also meant that Lebanon had extended their unbeaten streak to 13 matches, and in doing so beating Australia's record of 12 unbeaten matches from 1999 to 2001. Samoa had beaten the USA in the other match and so Lebanon and Samoa faced each other in Featherstone, Englandfor the tenth and final place in the 2008 World Cup. Samoa had a lot of the possession during the match and were generally physically larger. Samoa went into half time with a 28-8 lead despite a George Ndairatry for Lebanon on the 18th minute and an Adnan Salehtry very near to half-time. Two more tries in the second half were not enough for Lebanon and they lost the match 16-38, scoring four tries but converting none of them.
Since the arrival of a five-team domestic league in Lebanon, which was set up in
2003, a second team has formed made up of players from that league. They are known as the Liban Espoir and regularly tour other countries. In 2003 they toured Morocco, and then in 2005 they toured England and Wales, playing numerous matches against the England Lionhearts, Welsh Presidents XIII and Rugby League Conferenceteams. In 2006 they recored their first victory on tour in Cyprusagainst a British combined services team. In 2007they beat the main Serbian national team 16-14 and went on to defeat a Serbia Development XIII 50-0. In 2008they played the United Arab Emirates, the first game ever to be played by the nation. The match was played in Bhamdounwith the Liban Espoir eventually winning 48-18.
"World Cup Qualification squad versus Samoa"
Adham El Zbaideh
Rugby league in Lebanon
Lebanon national rugby league team match results
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLxAOVsr8jw =/ Al Jazeeera You Tube feature]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8688708056145983012&q=rugby+league/ Google-Video]
* [http://www.lebrl.com/ Lebanon Rugby League]
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