After a week of great rugby in Jounieh’s Fouad Chehab, the Lebanese team have emerged undefeated and the Champions of West Asia. Overcoming Jordan in their first game by 71 – 3 the Lebanese National team went from strength to strength. Their final game was against the Iranian national team. Not only was the game the decider of the West Asian Championship, but for many Lebanese it was a chance to get one back on the team that had beaten them in the Al Ain Sevens Final in 2014. This time however, the game was being played on home Lebanese soil.
Iran had performed well in their first game against Jordan, the second game of the West Asian Championship. They beat a young Jordanian side 49 – 3, sending a strong message to their Lebanese opponents. In this way, the stage was set for a thrilling final to the Championship. Saturday the 18th of April saw a big crowd gather in Fouad Chehab to watch the Lebanese Phoenix take on the Iranian National Team. Lebanon dominated throughout and started strong with a good try from outhalf and captain Karim Jammal. Jammal kept the pressure on the Iranian with the boot too, kicking penalties from both sides of the pitch to increase the Lebanese advantage.
Late in the first half, powerful centre Jad al Hachem was to give the Lebanese more of an advantage by thundering over the line for his first in the Championship. While Iranian outhalf Amin Hoseinzadeh pulled out a penalty to get Iran on the scoreboard, Jammal and Fullback Thomas Saliba kept up with the penalties, scoring 5 between them in total. In the second half, Lebanese dominance meant that the result of the match was put beyond doubt. However, after shuffling around their backline with a few substitutions, the Iranians managed to score a consolation try through winger Arshia Mottaghinejad.
The final whistle however gave the Lebanese their first victory against the Iranians in an historic game and Championship in Lebanon. The first of its kind, and definitely not the last, the West Asian Championship was a major success as both an event and standard of Rugby from the Lebanese Rugby Union. Here’s to the future and more of the same!