History of the Lebanese Rugby Union Federation

Beginnings

The Beirut Phoenicians Rugby club

The Beirut Phoenicians Rugby Union Football Club (BPRUFC) was formed in October 1995 in response to a request from the British Embassy for a rugby team to play HMS Cardiff, a Royal Navy warship that docked in Beirut for a few days in November 1995.

The BPRUFC was founded by:

  • Col. Big Bird (deceased)

  • David Malving (left the region)

  • Alex Jammal

Many of the club’s retired members remain on the Lebanese Rugby Union Federation's Executive Committee and have taken on an active role in promoting rugby in Lebanon.

The Beirut Phoenicians Rugby Union Club represented Lebanon as the only rugby union club in both locally played matches and international tournaments for a number of years.

November 1995: The BPRUFC played HMS Cardiff, a Royal Navy warship that docked in Beirut for a few days. With only two hours practice the Beirut Phoenicians came close to beating a team that went on to win the Royal Navy Cup.

February 1996: The BPRFC toured Cyprus and played two matches against British Army teams from the Episkopi and Akrotiri bases on the Island.

June 1996: The BPRUFC played the inagural match against the Fijian UNIFL Battalion in Tyre, South Lebanon. The match was called the 'Qana Memorial Cup', in memory of the tragic events at Fijian Battalion HQ in Qana on the 18th April,1996

July 1996: The BPRUFC officially became a member of the Arabian Gulf Rugby Union, a member of the IRB.

October 4, 1996: The BPRUFC hosted and played the London Lebanese XV, beating them 12 – Nil.

November 20, 1996: The BPRUFC flew to Dubai to take part in the prestigious Dubai Seven’s Tournament with representatives from all over the world, many of whom were surprised and impressed that Beirut was able to field such a competitive side.

March 1997: The BPRUFC flew to Cairo, Egypt with its supporters to play the Cairo XV, defeating them 40- Nil.

June 1997: The BPRUFC hosted and played the Amman XV from Jordan winning the match 12- Nil.

1998: From small beginnings, the Beirut Phoenicians Rugby Club has become a formidable sporting institution. The Club boasted a membership of over 50 player, the vast majority being Lebanese citizens. In December the club went to Dubai with its strongest team since the establishment of the Club, and were able to reach the final of the Khan Jar Silver Trophy losing in the final 30 seconds.

2000: The BPRUFC took part in the International 10’s Tournament in Cyprus.

February 2001: The BPRUFC defeated the Amman XV 41-0 and proved themselves as the rulers of club rugby in the Middle East. In the same year, the Club participated in the Cyprus International 10’s and the Dubai International 7’s.

2002: The BPRUFC began sporadic training for students of Notre Dame Jamhour, leading to the eventual establishment of the Jamhour Black Lions in 2003.

2003 – 2009

2003: Established a new Rugby Union league, other than the Arabian League, that coordinated with the representative of the IRB, based in Dubai. The new Rugby Union league was be comprised of teams from the Lebanon, Jordon, Cairo and Alexandria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

2004: The Highlight of the year was the successful organization of the first ever rugby union tournament in Lebanon, The 'Beirut International Ten-a-Side', which took place on 11th – 12th June. Six teams participated in the tournament, Cyprus, Jordon, Cairo, two teams from Lebanon and a mixed Barbarian team. The final between Beirut and Cyprus was won by Cyprus 13-12 through a penalty conversion in the dying seconds of the game. In the same year the BPRUFC played the Damascus Zenobian XV of Syria for the first time. The newly formed Jamhour Black Lions Rugby Union Club playing on a monthly basis throughout the year.

2005: After a very long 7 year wait the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sports recognised Rugby Union as a sport in the Lebanon and approved the BPRUF Club's license. The 'Beirut International Ten a side' Tournament was a success, the BPRUFC losing in the final against the Dubai Exiles in a hard fought final 7 – 5.

2006: The Beirut Phoenicians proved its capability of winning at home running out victourious in the 3rd Beirut Internationals 10’s. The tournament hosted two more teams than the previous year. At Dubai 7’s, the Beirut Phoenicians were very proud to rank second after having won all their games over the couple days of this major event. That gave the Club the opportunity to play the final on the main pitch in front of more than 25.000 spectators, a great achivement.

Also in 2006 a Lebanon Rugby 15’s Committee was fromed to begin the path towards establishing the Lebanese Rugby Union Federation. The committee was initiated by the founders of Rugby 15's in Lebanon, Mr. Alex JAMMAL, Mr. Serge SABBAGHA, Mr. Bassam HUSSEINI, Mr. Chady TOUMA, Mr. Georges AOUN and Mr. Ghassan HAJJAR. This Committee was represented at the 1st General Assembly of the Arab Rugby Federation in Tunis, in May. The ARF welcomed Lebanon’s suggestion to host the 1st ARF Tournament in Beirut, which was set for June 2007, after being postponed from initial date in September 2006, due to the 33 days’ war launched on Lebanon by Israel.

2007: The Lebanon Rugby 15's committee worked on the promotion of Rugby in the country, its main target being the establishment of new clubs. In the same year the BPRUFC reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Rugby 7s.

2008: A successful year for the Beirut Phoenicians with two wins against the Montcalm French Navy. The Club also reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Rugby 7s, and won matches against the Syrian National Rugby Team and the Mashreq League against a Jordanian team.

2009 – 2012

2009: Establishment of the Lebanese Rugby Union Federation. The LRUF becomes an Associate member of the Asian Rugby Union Federation. 
Arrival of Rob Yule in November 2009 from his job as coaching Iran. Rob helped the LRUF immensely in their first year. He prepared the documents necessary for Lebanon to join ARFU as an Associate Member as well as representing the young Federation at the ARFU AGM in Decemeber 2009 when Lebanon was accepted.

2010: National team coached by Rob Yule securs a victory against Jordan in their A5n contest. They lose to a very strong side from Qatar in the final.

Lebanon travel, under Yule's guidance to Portugal to compete in the University World Cup 7s.

Yule, who can be regarded as both the midwife and surrogate mother of the LRUF leaves the LRUF at the end of 2010 (due to the federations financial constraints). The LRUF and its members are deeply indebted to Rob for his service and were very sad to see him go. Yule returned to his native New Zealand to continue working in Rugby. 

2011:

  1. Lebanese University Championship – AUB, Beirut (16/7/2011) – Barbarians (students from LAU) won.
  2. Beirut Select v French Unifil – Bhamdoun (10/9/2011) – Beirut Select won.
  3. Mini 10’s tournament – Lebanese University, Beirut (17/9/2011) – Barbarians (students from LAU) won.
  4. Beirut Phoenician v Jamhour – Jamhour School (22/10/2011) – Beirut Phoenician won.
  5. Ahed 7’s Tournament – Beirut (12/11/2011) – Barbarians (students from LAU) won.
  6. LRUF Students Cup 7’s – AUB, Beirut (20/11/2011) – Barbarians (students from LAU) won.
  7. Beirut Phoenician v Jamhour – Jamhour School (26/11/2011) – Jamhour won.
  8. Dubai 7’s – Dubai (30/11/2011 till 4/12/2011) – Dubai won.

2012:

  1. Gray Wolves v Beirut Total – Beirut (5/2/2012) – Beirut Total won.
  2. Beirut Select v Irish Unifil – Beirut (11/2/2012) – Irish Unifil won.
  3. Beirut Select v Cyprus squad – Beirut (25/2/2012) – Lebanese Team going to Cyprus won.
  4. Cyprus Trip – Cyprus (9 till 11 March 2012) – Cyprus won.
  5. Beirut Total v Jamhour (18/3/2012) – Beirut Total won.
  6. University 7’s – Lebanese University, Beirut (25/3/2012) – The Saints (students from USJ) won.
  7. University Students Cup – Lebanese University, Beirut (22/4/2012) – The Saints (students from USJ) won.
  8. Dubai A5N division 4 – Dubai (23 till 28 April 2012) – Qatar won.
  9. Jamhour v Exiles – Beirut (6/5/2012) – Jamhour won.
  10. LRUF University/Students Cup – Beirut (13/5/2012) – The Saints (students from USJ) won.
  11. Mini 7’s Tournament – Bhamdoun (20/5/2012) – Gray Wolves won.
  12. Beirut 10’s – Beirut (23/6/2012) – Riyadh won.
  13. University World Cup 7’s – France (July 2012)
  14. Egypt v Lebanon (boys & girls) – Beirut (4 till 9 September 2012) – Egypt won.
  15. Beirut Inter Clubs 10’s – Beirut (22/9/2012) – Beirut Total won.
  16. Eden Park Rugby 7’s Students Cup Round 1 – Beirut (14/10/2012) – The Saints (students from USJ) won.
  17. 4th Beirut International 7’s tournament – Beirut (3/11/2012) – Irish Unifil won.
  18. UAE 7’s – Dubai (9, 10/11/2012) – Lebanon won.
  19. Beirut Total/Exiles v Gray Wolves – Beirut (16/11/2012) – Gray Wolves won.
  20. School 10’s Tournament – Beirut (18/11/2012) – Lycee School won

2013 – Present

The Lebanese Rugby Union Federation at the present time is made up of four teams, which play in the Total Lebanese Club Championship including,

  • The Beirut Phoenicians

  • The Greywolves, and

  • The Jamhour Black Lions

  • The Spartans Jounieh

The competition between these clubs is strong and the level of play is solid with the Beirut 'Total' Phoenicians defeating the Gray Wolves in the 2013 Total Lebanese Club Rugby Championship.

The Lebanese National team competes in the Asian Rugby Federation Union 'Asian Five Nations' competition and is very competitive regionally. The Lebanese National Men's team the ‘Pheonix recently won a Middle Eastern 7s tournament in Dubai and the Asian Five Nations Division 4 tournament against Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Laos to advance to the 3rd Division in the 2013 – 2014 season.