Katy W. Terro
The AUB Women’s Rugby League (WRL) set off 2 years ago and has come so far since then. The number of girls in the Rugby league has doubled, as more and more girls are finding interest in the sport.
The WRL has been training hard, 3 times per week to increase their competency. What is more fascinating this year is the establishing of the first LAU Women’s Rugby League. The LAU girls have been training hard to catch up, which led to the first of its kind “AUB vs. LAU” game on Friday, February 24.
The tournament was a friendly between AUBWRL Red, AUBWRL Black and the LAU WRL, with the teams coming in first, third, and second place respectively.
AUBWRL’s head coach Sol Mokdad explained how Friday’s event was a success and that the support was incredible.
“I would like to thank LAU for participating in our tournament,” said Mokdad. “It was the first ever game for many of the players from both teams and there is a lot of work to be done now that we will have regular competitive fixtures.”
Some of the players were a bit hesitant at first since it was the first game that included on-field tackling.
“The teams should be proud of their achievement and I look forward to seeing the sport of rugby league grow as it’s driven by our student-athletes,” added Mokdad.
The tackling, as well as the game, proved to be fun and liberating for everyone.
“It was a really beautiful game,” said AUBWRL player Mariana Khayyat, “We got to meet great people who just want to enjoy the sport and reach their full potential.”
Tamara Hammoud, another AUBWRL player elaborated that even though it was a painful experience, it was worth it.
Likewise, Fouad Chehab stadium hosted the first ever Women’s Rugby League National game in the history of Lebanon on Saturday, February 26th.
The Lebanese team (the Junipers) faced the Italian national team as part of the two countries’ own version of the Mediterranean Cup. The match in Jounieh was the first leg of the tournament, with the second to be held in Italy on May 5.
The international game on Saturday was a success despite the loss (22-0), and it is the start of much more to come. The team has been training for this game for the last 2 months with coach Ghassan Dandash. There were girls trying out from the Orcas club, Jounieh club, AUB team, Jamhour School and others.
Mokdad was honored to witness the historic event between the Junipers and Italy. “Regardless of the result, our players showed heart and determination against a more experienced side and they will surely learn from it,” said Mokdad. He mentioned how it is also an achievement to see four of the AUB players from the AUB Rugby League program get selected to compete against Italy.
“We’ve come so far in such a short period of time,” said AUBWRL player Loubna Sasso. “We lost but we put up a great fight!”
The game gave a taste of what rugby league is really about and, hopefully, the exposure will encourage more girls in Lebanon to join the Rugby League. Sasso also mentioned that the team will be training heavily in preparation for the second game in Italy.
Rania Abdallah, another AUBWRL player said that she felt very proud to have represented her country and that training long and hard for Saturday’s National game was definitely worth it.
“It was an amazing experience to keep pushing for 80 minutes while getting hit, defending, and trying over and over again,” said Abdallah.
All of the players from AUBWRL visited the Fouad Shehab stadium to support their fellow players. The defense mechanism adopted by the Lebanese team was applauded despite them not scoring.
“There were several amazing tackles made by our team and the Italians were very good and did seem much more experienced but despite that our team managed to keep them on their toes,” said Sumar Ziady.
Despite the competition, great sportsmanship was shown by both teams at the end of the game.
The future of the AUBWRL looks very promising. The team has gotten so far in such short time and the players are motivated to keep training harder and harder every day.