Lebanon national rugby league team

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Badge of Lebanon team
Nickname Les Cèdres (The Cedars)
Governing body Lebanese Rugby League Federation
Region Asia
Head coach Tarek houchar
Captain Chris Saab
Most caps Chris Saab (16)
Top try-scorer Hazem El Masri (12)
Top point-scorer Hazem El Masri (136 points)
Home stadium International Olympic Stadium
RLIF ranking 20th
First international
 Japan 28 – 52 Lebanon 
(Tokyo, Japan; 1998)
Biggest win
 Morocco 0 – 104 Lebanon 
(Carcassonne, France; 1999)
Biggest defeat
 Russia 80 – 0 Lebanon 
(Moscow, Russia; 28 September 2008)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (first time in 2000)
Best result Group stages, 2000

The Lebanon national rugby league team (Arabic: لبنان الرجبي الوطني فريق في الدوري) is the representative side of Lebanon in rugby league football. They are nicknamed "The Cedars" after the Lebanon Cedar tree, which is also on the Lebanese flag. The team has been participating in international competition since 1998. The team was originally formed in New South Wales, Australia, composed of Lebanese Australians. But their success has helped the game grow in Lebanon and now players are also taken from the newly formed Lebanon Championship as well as the National Rugby League in Australia.

The team played in the 2000 World Cup, having defeated the USA to get there. But it failed in getting out of the group stages, despite a draw against the Cook Islands in Cardiff and 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 Cup and have won it in every year it has been played. In 2006 they won the Phoenician Cup by beating Malta.

Currently the team are ranked 11th in the world, having dropped out of the top ten after failing to qualify for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. In the more up to date European rankings they are ranked 5th, behind World Cup qualifiers England, France, Ireland and Scotland, but they are ahead of Wales, Russia and Serbia. Darren Maroon occupies the position of head coach.


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 1998 and in their first match thrashed Japan in Tokyo. This got them a place in Mediterranean Pool for qualification to the 2000 World Cup. In their 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. Following the match the team were warned about their conduct after a car-park fight that put American winger Tony Fabri in hospital.[1]

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 Elias said 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 Saleh tries 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 not done enough to earn a place in the quarter-finals.

Mediterranean Cup

In 2002, Lebanon beat France 36–6 in front of 9,713 spectators at Tripoli to clinch the Mediterranean Cup for a second time.[2] In 2003 played 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 Masri only fully securing the win in the last minute. In the final Mediterranean Cup in 2004, Lebanon made it three victories 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 Nicolas and a third Ahmed Al Masri try finally sealing a 42–14 victory for Lebanon despite a late consolation try for France. It is also worth noting that a young Thomas Bosc featured in that match for France. He would then go on to play in the 2007 Challenge Cup Final.

Official Rankings as of December 2015[3]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 897.00
2  Australia 719.00
3  England 655.00
4  Samoa 280.00
5  France 209.00
6 Increase  Ireland 162.00
7 Decrease  Fiji 147.00
8 Increase  Wales 132.00
9 Decrease  Scotland 121.00
10 Steady  United States 102.00
11 Increase  Serbia 72.00
12 Steady  Italy 65.00
13  Canada 62.00
14 Decrease  Papua New Guinea 60.00
15 Increase  Russia 46.00
16 Decrease  Tonga 40.00
17 Increase  Belgium 40.00
18  Malta 32.00
19 Steady  Germany 28.00
20  Lebanon 27.00
21 Increase  Spain 26.00
22 Decrease  Cook Islands 23.00
23  Ukraine 22.00
24 Steady  Greece 21.00
25 Increase  Denmark 20.00
26 Decrease  Norway 19.00
27 Increase  Jamaica 16.00
28 Decrease  Netherlands 15.00
29 Decrease  Sweden 15.00
30 Steady  Czech Republic 14.00
31 Decrease  South Africa 13.00
32 Steady  Niue 4.00
33  Hungary 2.00
34  Latvia 2.00
35  Morocco 0.00

2008 World Cup qualifying

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 Stadium in 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 Chiha crossed over the line after 13 minutes, but the conversion was missed. John Koborsi then 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 Salem then 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 2007 the World Cup qualifying matches continued. In October the team travelled to Moscow and 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 Maroon 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 Ndaira try in the first half meant that Lebanon went into half time on the wrong end of a 12–4 scoreline. Chris Salem immediately scored a try after the interval though and Lebanon were back in the game. In the 63rd minute prop Charlie Nohra was sent off, leaving Lebanon with 12 men and a huge upward struggle. Frank Samia scored 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 a long 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, England for the tenth and final place in the 2008 World Cup. Samoa had a lot of the possession during the match and were noticeably physically larger. Samoa went into half time with a 28–8 lead despite a George Ndaira try for Lebanon on the 18th minute and an Adnan Saleh try very near to half-time. Two more tries in the second half were not enough for Lebanon and they lost the match 16–38,[4] scoring four tries but converting none of them.

2013 World Cup Qualifying

Lebanon were drawn against Serbia, Italy and Russia in the qualifying group for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, with the winners of the group progressing to the final tournament. Following comfortable victories over Serbia and Russia, Lebanon set up a winner-takes-all match against Italy in Belgrade on 29 October. The game finished in a draw with the score at 19–19, which unfortunately meant that Italy qualified for the World Cup ahead of Lebanon based on points difference. This is the second time in a row that Lebanon have failed to qualify for the World Cup despite not losing a game in the qualifiers.

2017 World Cup Qualifying

Lebanon were drawn initially in a one-off playoff in Dubai, United Arab Emirates against the African rugby league nation of South Africa, however the match was shifted to a two match playoff in Pretoria, South Africa due to a controversial arrest of Sol Mokdad following a complaint from UAE rugby union officials.[5]

Current squad

The following players are a list of players selected in the Lebanon national team for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup qualifier against South Africa in October 2015.[6] (caps and points apply for after the World Cup qualifier finished):

  • Reece Robinson was originally named in the final 20-man squad but withdrew later on after signing a contract to play rugby union. He was replaced by Toufic El Hajj.[7]
Other Nat. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
Australia Fullback James Boustani 5 54 File:Australian colours.svg Hills
Australia Fullback Daniel Abou Sleiman 3 8 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets
Australia Fullback Tarek El Masri 2 8 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets
Australia Centre Travis Robinson (1987-06-13) 13 June 1987 (age 32) 5 40 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm
Australia Centre James Elias (1993-12-04) 4 December 1993 (age 25) 2 0 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights
Lebanon Centre Adham El Zbaidieh 3 0 Unattached
Australia Stand-off Mark Daoud (1994-11-30) 30 November 1994 (age 24) 2 4 File:Australian colours.svg Asquith Magpies
Australia Prop Ray Moujalli (1984-12-20) 20 December 1984 (age 34) 11 20 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets
Lebanon Prop Elias Sukkar 3 8 File:Australian colours.svg Auburn Warriors
Lebanon Prop Robin Hachache 13 0 LebanonRLcolours.png Immortals
Australia Hooker Ali Allouche 2 0 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Lebanon Second-row Ahmad Ellaz (1990-05-14) 14 May 1990 (age 29) 7 4 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets
Australia Second-row Chris Saab 12 12 File:Australian colours.svg Guildford Owls
Australia Second-row Nick Kassis (1988-11-29) 29 November 1988 (age 30) 8 16 File:New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Wentworthville Magpies
Lebanon Second-row Wael Harb (1987-01-17) 17 January 1987 (age 32) 7 8 LebanonRLcolours.png Wolves RLFC
Australia Lock Ben Chahoud 0 0 File:Australian colours.svg Mount Pritchard Mounties
Australia Richard Coorey 2 0 File:Australian colours.svg Auburn Warriors
Lebanon Ead Kassem 1 0 File:Australian colours.svg Auburn Warriors
Australia Mitchell Mamary (1994-01-13) 13 January 1994 (age 25) 2 4 File:New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Wentworthville Magpies
Lebanon Toufic El Hajj 0 0 LebanonRLcolours.png American University of Beirut
Lebanon Ray Finan 0 0 LebanonRLcolours.png Immortals

Notable players that are Lebanese

International Results

The following table underneath shows Lebanon's all-time rugby league results record. They have been participating in International fixtures since 1998.

International Results
Country Matches Won Drawn Lost % Won Year/s
Total 41 27 4 10 66% 1998-
 Canada 1 0 0 1 0% 2012
 Cook Islands 3 0 1 2 0% 2000-2016
France France 'A' 3 3 0 0 100% 2002-2004
 Fiji 1 0 0 1 0% 2014
Fiji Fiji Australians 1 1 0 0 100% 2013
 Ireland 3 1 2 0 33% 2006-2009
 Italy 5 3 1 1 60% 1999-2011
 Japan 1 1 0 0 100% 1998
 Malta 2 2 0 0 100% 2006-2015
 Morocco 5 5 0 0 100% 1999-2011
 New Zealand 1 0 0 1 0% 2000
 Russia 4 3 0 1 75% 2006-2011
 Samoa 1 0 0 1 0% 2007
 Scotland 1 0 0 1 0% 2009
 Serbia 4 4 0 0 100% 2003-2011
 South Africa 2 2 0 0 100% 2015
 United States 1 1 0 0 100% 1999
 Wales 2 1 0 1 50% 2000-2007


See also


  1. Hadfield, Dave (24 October 2000). "Lebanese rugby league team in storm over funny substances". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 February 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Mascord, Steve (4 November 2002). "El Magic helps spread word to the Middle East". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. Retrieved 20 February 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. RLIF Rankings.
  4. "Samoa beats Lebanon to be last team in league world cup". AAP. 14 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Venue changed for Middle East-Africa RLWC qualifier". Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation. 2015-07-24. Retrieved 2015-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Robinson Brothers headline strong Lebanon squad". rlef.eu.com. 2015-10-14. Retrieved 2015-10-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Robinson withdrawal disrupts Lebanon preparations". rlef.eu.com. 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2015-10-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "2017 RLWCQ - MEA GAME 1: SOUTH AFRICA V LEBANON – PREVIEW". rlef.eu.com. 2015-10-24. Retrieved 2015-11-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. http://www.rlef.eu.com/other/report?RLE00000102

External links