On Saturday 7th March, 2014, the Lebanese Rugby Union Federation’s representative team, the Beirut Select XV, played its second and final match against the French UNIFL’s team, XV FCR at the Lebanese University, Hadath. In a rugged hard fought match the Beirut side eventually running out victors 15 – 13.
Coming off a loss to Beirut Select XV in the first match in January, the XV FCR started the match with a great deal more fervour than in their previous match up and came out off the Beirut kick off firing. The French boasting a squad of over 50 players, initially shocked the Beirut side with some hard running and heavy hits certainly having come to demonstrate their superior size and strength.
The renowned French attacking flair seemed to be at play and strong running from the French number 8 throughout the entire match kept the Beirut defence on their toes. Once again though the Beirut back line demonstrated their superior attacking skill breaking the French back line on repeated occasions. Strong winds at Beirut’s back in the first half assured Beirut’s supremacy in the long kicking game and field position.
The first thirty minutes of the game were a tightly contested struggle with position and advantage see-sawing between both teams until a number of forced and unforced errors saw both teams pressuring each others line. This consistent pressure eventually led Beirut posting the game’s first points through an unconverted try to winger Tarek Hammoud. A successful penalty conversion just before the halftime break saw the XV FCR pull back the initial lead to 5 – 3 leading into the halftime break.
XV FCR started the second half with a great deal more aggressiveness especially through their forwards and were quickly awarded a penalty kick in front of the Beirut posts which was successfully converted to take the score to 5 – 6 in favour of the French. In the 51st minute, through some attacking flare the French were awarded another penalty five meters out of the Beirut line. A quick tap and a barging forward saw the French post their first converted try of the match and take the lead to 13 – 5.
Against the run of play Beirut Captain Karim Jammal took an intercept pass and ran almost 55 meters to score and convert Beirut’s second try making the score 12 – 13 with less than 20 minutes left to play.
The field position and weight of possession began to swing in Beirut’s favour as the French forwards began to tire. Beirut was awarded a penalty late in the game, which was converted by Karim Jammal making the final score 15 – 13 in favour of Beirut Select XV.
As the teams cheered each other off the field and shared a beer, The Director General of Total Liban, Jacques Souplet awarded Beirut Captain, Karim Jammal with the Total Friendship Cup, which Karim then awarded to the XV FCR. XV FCR representative, Cedric Dwoinikoff, awarded Federation Chairman, Alex Jammal with a memorial plaque and a XV FCR Jersey in commemoration of the match.
Regardless of the tightness of the contest, the spirit of rugby was well and truly the winner on the day.
'Lebanon in Union'