Rugby Saturday’s Match Report between Beirut Select XV and Irish UNIFIL

27 Oct. 2015 – Lebanese Rugby witnessed another exciting weekend when Beirut Select XV played a friendly match against an impressive Irish UNIFL XV last weekend. The match was a celebration of the Rugby World Cup which featured a number of Under 12 and Under 16 matches celebrating a new World Rugby’s program implemented in Lebanon.

The kids certainly enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their rugby skills in front of the visiting Irish UNIFL team and their heroes- some members of the recent West Asian Championship winning Lebanese National Team the Phoenix- who were playing for the Beirut Select XV.

In a show  of true sportsmanship as well as strengthening the bound between Unfil & the Lebanese people, the Irishmen left their base in Southern Lebanon and traveled the long distance journey to Beirut to take part in this tournament.

The strong physical condition of the Irish was immediately on display from the kick off with Beirut kicking a long ball down to the Irish team who carried the ball hard into the Lebanese defense.

Beirut didn’t see the Irishmen’s territory for the first twenty minutes of the match as the Irish had them pinned down in their own half for the first quarter of the match. Yet credit must be given to the Beirut Select XV who showed tremendous courage and grit, defending with great passion, managing to keep the Irish from crossing their line.

After sustaining the relentless Irish attack for what seemed like an eternity, a great break from inside the Beirut half saw the Select XV attacking the Irish 22m line, reversing the pressure that had been on them. The Select XV squad made great use of their possession through quick passing and attacking, they imposed a high pressure on their opponent and were able to score on the stroke of the half-time through their winger, Ellie MARJ, dotting down in the corner.

Select XV Captain, Karim JAMMAL converted the try from the side line to take the Beirut team into the half in front 7 – 0.The second half started much to the opposite of the first with the Beirut Select XV coming out firing. The Select XV managed to pin down the Irish XV in a prolonged attack in the Irish half.  Sustained pressure saw the Beirut Select XV score two great tries through Lock, Mounir FINAN, who used great footwork to side step the Irish fullback and score adjacent to the posts, and George CASSAB, the lightning quick Lebanese 9 who picked up the ball from the base of the ruck and scored a great try.

The Beirut Select XV seemed to have the match wrapped up with a comfortable 21-0 lead over the Irish leading into the last quarter of the match. It seemed that the superior fitness of the Lebanese players was outweighing a clear sign of match fatigue, which seemed to kick to the Irish ranks but fighting Irish XV demonstrated that famous fighting spirit that they have become known for by refusing to give up. The Irish were able to mount some excellent working phases, creating space out wide and scoring a brace of tries in quic
k succession.

At 21-17, the match looked like it could have gone either way especially as the Irish XV were hitting every ruck with colossal force and showing true intent, but the Beirut Select XV demonstrated a real determination and their Lebanese strength by holding out for a great victory, adding another to the growing list against visiting UNIFL teams.

After the match, the two teams made a guard of honor and clapped each other off. Trophies and medals were exchanged and they joined each other at a pub in order to watch the World Cup Semi-Final between New Zealand and South Africa. It was a great day spent by everyone!