Lebanon Rugby League Grand Final


Despite the most difficult hardships facing the country, the Lebanon Rugby League Grand Final takes place this evening (Thursday) and will be live-streamed. It will also see a new name on the trophy as Wolves RLFC take on Grey Wolves RLFC (aka: Lycans) for the first time in a national championship decider, at Nejmeh Field in Beirut (kick off 8.45pm local time).

The Wolves qualified for the Grand Final by finishing top of the four-club premiership at the end of the regular season with the Grey Wolves beating Tripoli RLFC in their semi final, but even getting to a competition climax in such extreme conditions is an enormous achievement.

“We are looking forward to an excellent game to wrap up our club championship,” said Nayef Abi Said, CEO of the Lebanese Rugby League Federation. “It was a very difficult season for us with all the external factors and conditions. I would like to thank all the clubs, players, officials and fans for their dedication to the game of rugby league.”

According to a recent UNICEF report, ‘Several overlapping crises have left many families in Lebanon struggling to survive, with more than half the population now living below the poverty line. Some say the massive economic crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, the August 2020 Beirut explosions and instability have all combined to create conditions worse even than they were during the 1975-1990 civil war.’

In their previous ‘Battle of the Wolves’ meeting, in round two of the Premiership, the Wolves triumphed 18–1, thanks to an outstanding performance from half-back Jad El Hachem.

Wolves player-manager, Ziad Agha, commented: “The team is all looking forward to the LRL Grand Final. It’s been a tough season coming back from a year’s shutdown and with everything going on in the country. We hope to keep the momentum going with one last go for gold, but most of all we are just happy that the sport we all love is back - and hopefully will get stronger in preparation for our participation in the World Cup next year.”

Grey Wolves manager, Khalil Azar, added: “The boys have been waiting for this game for a very long time. We are ready and intending to bring the cup back home.” Winger Karim El Zein is representative of the resolve being shown by all the Lebanese players. “We lost our first game but dedicated ourselves and reached the final. We have all had to adapt to the new challenges we are facing every day. It is nearly impossible, but that’s how it is being Lebanese, we can overcome anything we face,” he said.

“Mostly we are car-pooling, so whoever has time to get fuel, we all gather together. Sometimes, because of the shortages, we even miss some sessions but in order to compensate we put extra effort in at an individual level whether at the local gym or nearby playground - we had multiple lockdowns and quarantine.”

El Zein confirmed: “But disregarding the economic impact and everything else, I’m happy with the performances we are giving and hopefully we will be able to finish the season on a high. Hats off the LRFL for bringing back rugby league after a long absence.”

Lebanese-American referee Nadeem Moughnieh will officiate and the match will be broadcasted live via recast.app. To watch the game register at: https://share.recast.app/u/8XbEn?referrer=8XbEn

Wolves RLFC 18-man squad

Toufic Ghalayini, Hassan Jammal. Rany Abi Falah, Sami Ghanem, Hussein Abdallah, Jean Rmeily, Solomon Mokdad, Jhonny Fawaz, Gianni Hammoudeh, Atef Hamdan, Michel el Tom, Kahil Bejjani, Robin Hachache, Mazen Knio, Stefano Jabri, Ameen Agha, Adam Itani, Micheal Mouallem

Grey Wolves RLFC (“Lycans”) 18-man squad

Wael Harb, Ziad Azoury, Rodolph Spiridon, Mario Nawar, Karim El Zein, Karl Bcherrawy, Laurent Zalloum, Rami Kiwan, Jad Zoghaib, Peter Haddad, Mohamad Flitty, Rami Hasbany, Maher Harb, Jean-Paul Dagher, Leonardo Chouchani, Nadim Kreiker, Khaled El Rafii, Joseph Rahme