|Michael Moubarak ( Liban Espoir) palming off Said Aamoud (MRL)|
Leaving the political events off the field aside, the Lebanese and Moroccan rugby league players showed the true meaning of sportsmanship and the love both teams have for the game. With the green light given less than 24 hours before kickoff, all the players had less than an ideal preparation for the game, but it hardly showed on the pitch.
A powerful second half performance from the Espoir forwards helped them claim a 30-26 victory, in a game where the result was up in the air until the referee blow the full time whistle. With players and on lookers perplexed with the official’s performance at times, it left for one exciting game of rugby league, to say the least.
The home team jumped to a commanding 20-4 lead at half time, which left the Lebanese boys asking for a translation of the Moroccan’s rugby league rule book. A try to Said Aamoud on the 8th minute mark, kicked off proceeding and Moustaf Bouhassel chimed in with his four pointer after 15 minutes were gone. Ferdousse Driss crossed for his brace in rapid session and it was a point a minute as the score board showed 20-0 after 20 minutes. Jonathon Fenianos’ try stemmed the tide and got the visitors back on track as halftime approached.
With a quick brush up on the local rules, the Espoir side came out ready to play. Roger Tohme, Michael Moubarak, Robin Hachache, Mohamed Merheb, Steve Fadel all scored second half tries but with their goal kicking boots left behind at Beirut Airport luggage terminal, the visitors keep the locals in the game after converting only 2 from 6 attempts. Souhail Ait Allah’s try made it a one try difference, and all to play for, but the final whistle came too early for the local boys and went down 30-26.
Remond Safi, the Rugby League European Federation’s MENA Regional Director, “despite all the political events that took place it was good to see the Moroccans and Lebanese uniting to give right to play rugby league, it was very disappointing to only hear of this blockage the night before the MENA Games, it’s clear that there was other intension to block games behind what they had informed us, It will be interesting to see how the next meeting goes with establish the 2 independent federation as I couldn’t see the rationale behind the explanation giving to why they have chosen to go this route. As for the local activity it was impressive to see over a year ago to date there has been a lot of activity in forming new clubs and preparation of players, we can see the new breed upcoming as first generation rugby league player born and bred in Morocco.“
Association President Mostafa Jedoual, “it was a remarkable and a historical day that Morocco had received the Lebanese Rugby League team and actually played a match between them and our Moroccan team. Despite of all the hard events against rugby league in general here and our federation specially, I can say that our efforts all over the year have been not lost. It is evident that ministry forbad us to play the first match but, with we could play the second one as a result of long negotiations between Mr. Berrechid, the local council, sport responsible, and the Rugby Union Federation. On behalf of Moroccan Federation of Rugby League we very strongly denounce the arbitrary decision that the Sports Ministry had taken against us and we consider the independence of a Moroccan Rugby League Federation an obligatory matter.
Referee Moustafa Aamoud, Touch Judges: Mohamed Oubran, Elias el Mostahi, 4th Official: Hamza Kenanie
Houssin Sarhani, said Aamoud, Kamal Hicham, Mohamed Makkaoui, Abdelwahed Kaair, Karim Bayoudi, Boulhia Abdelaziz, Souhail Ait Alla, Omar Houhami, Mohamed Bouassel, Ferdouse Driss, Redouan Tabour, Mostafa Sarhani, Youssef Mamad, Yassine Aamoud, Jadoui Youssef, Haytam Boutarfose
Mohamed Merheb, Roger Tohme, Charbil Katter, Moutaz Mourad, Jonathon Fenianos, Elie Hdayed, Robin Hachache, Sami Assaf, Toni Moubarak, Steve Fadel, Michael Moubarak.