The Lebanon Cedars Rubgy League Team

The Lebanese Rugby League was formed in 1995 and it's aim as to play full international rugby in Lebanon. The Lebanese side that qualified for the 2000 World Cup was comprised of players from Australia who are Lebanese or whose parents come from Lebanon.

Lebanon played their first full International in 1998 and since then have competed in the Mediterranean Cup and also all the qualifying events for the 2000 World Cup. They grabbed the last spot in the tournament when they defeated the United States in Florida.

After the 2000 World Cup, the squad traveled to Lebanon where they met the President and chief of the Lebanese Olympic Committee. Talks with other diplomats proved successful with a International on the horizon in Lebanon and also preliminary plans for a local competition. They went on to win the Mediterranean Cup in 2002 and 2003.

Latest News

Lebanon win Mediterranean Cup
Sat Oct 25 2003

Lebanon have won the Mediterranean Cup defeating the French Chanticleers 26 – 18 in the all important final of the tournament. Lebanon who pulled an upset against the French last year in Tripoli were expected to struggle against the Chanticleers despite a number of key players making up the Les Blues squad which also took on the Australian Kangaroos side last night.

The French had looked world beaters in the tournament comprehensively beating Morocco and Serbia by greater margins than the Lebanese. The Cedars however, containing the likes of NRL player, Hazem El Masri weren’t prepared to hand over the Mediterranean Cup trophy which they awarded last year in the one off match.

In the battle for third spot in the tournament, Morocco defeated the Serbians 58 – 4.

Mediterranean Cup

2003 sees the Mediterranean Cup finally become a regular component of the Rugby League International Calendar.

The Mediterranean Cup was first concieved in 1999 as a qualifer for the 2000 Rugby League World Cup. However after the World Cup turned out to not be the financial success everyone hoped it would be, the tournament was scrapped.

In an effort to resurrect the tournament, a one off international between France and Lebanon was played in 2002, with the winner considered the Mediterranean Cup champion.

The 2003 tournament will see four nations take part in France, Lebanon, Serbia and Morocco, with the event hoping to grow to six nations in 2004. The event will be all staged in Lebanon by the Lebanese Rugby League.

Mediterranean Cup - Round Two
Thu Oct 23, 2:51pm

France and Lebanon continued their scoring spree in the rugby league Mediterranean Cup, registering huge victories against Serbia & Montenegro and Morocco last night in Beirut’s Municipal Stadium.

After their 72-0 destruction of Morocco in the opening match of the two-year old tournament France smashed all records with a 120-0 slaughter of woefully outclassed Serbia.

Centre Fabrice Estebanez was the main beneficiary of Les Bleus’ total domination, scoring 10 of France’s 22 tries.

Lebanon used their game against Morocco to field inspirational fullback Hazem El Masri. The man who is known as ‘El Magic’ in Australia displayed his dazzling array of attacking and kicking skills in the Bartercard Cedars’ 60-0 whitewash of a never-say-die Morocco outfit.

El Masri scored three tries and kicked a perfect 10 goals from 10 attempts to send a warning to France ahead of Saturday’s tournament decider in Tripoli.

Lebanon and France play in the International Stadium at 4.30pm while Morocco plays Serbia two hours earlier.

Tries: Estebanez 10, Greseque 4, Azema 2, Terrado, Julia, Cologni, Jampy, Carrasco, Hechiche.
Goals: Greseque 12/16, Terrado 4/6

Tries: Hazem El Masri 3, Moujali, Chohal, Nohra, Azzi, Younan, Salem , Touma.
Goals: Hazem El Masri 10/10
Defeated MOROCCO 0

Mediterranean Cup: Round One
Mon Oct 20, 9:09am

The two favourites for the Rugby League Mediterranean Cup displayed their credentials with crushing victories to open the week long international tournament.

Hosts and holders Lebanon smashed through the hundred-point barrier against an outclassed Serbia & Montenegro side, eventually running up a 102-0 scoreline, while France overcame initially stiff Moroccan resistance to rack up a 72-0 triumph in Tripoli’s International Stadium.

Pia halfback Maxime Greseque was on top form as he dominated play for France, bagging three breakaway tries and as many goals for a personal haul of 18-points. Wing Michael Van Snick opened the scoring in the fifth minute to start a procession of French tries, joining wing partner Henri Marot and substitute Sebastian Azema on two tries.

France’s Saturday showdown with Lebanon promises to be a titanic clash as they seek to avenge last year’s 36-6 cup defeat in Tripoli.

Lebanon captain Anthony Semrani led the team with an inspired performance from hooker, scoring three tries while Samer El Masri compiled 34 points in the 18 try massacre of the plucky Serbs.

Domestic championship products Sami Halabi, Anthony Letayf, Jihad Ashkar and Hassan Taha all made their debuts for Lebanon in a historic day for the sport.

Bartercard Cedars centre Andrew Abou Nader and halfback Anthony Farrah had stand out performances in a stellar all-round team performance.

Tries: Greseque 3, Van Snick 2, Marot 2, Azema 2, Terrado, Rorira, Estebanez, Fellous.
Goals: Frayssinous 5/6, Greseque 3/4, Terrado 2/3
defeated MOROCCO 0

Tries: Semrani 3, Azzi 2, Anthony Farrah 2, Charlie Farrah 2, Azam 2, Saab, Nohra, Samer El Masri, Younan, Abou Nader, Wissam El Masri, Touma.
Goals: Samer El Masri 15/18

Lebanon ‘invincible’ ahead of Mediterranean Cup defence
Thu Sep 18, 3:03pm

With just over a month to go until the start of the rugby league Mediterranean Cup pride and patriotism are the watchwords underpinning Lebanon’s preparations. The Bartercard Cedars won the Mediterranean Cup last year in Tripoli after a convincing victory over World Cup quarter-finalists France, but the defence of their crown will be tested by the introduction of Serbia and powerful Morocco into the arena, as well as by the return of a French side intent on revenge.

Robbie Farah, 19, from Bhairi, exemplified the spirit running through the Lebanon squad when he declared earlier this week “I feel proud and invincible” about playing for Lebanon. Farah scored the opening try in last year’s stunning 36-6 victory.

The skilful Balmain Tigers halfback is one of a 20-man train-on squad that has been preparing for over a month in Sydney. That squad will be reduced to fifteen who will travel to Lebanon for the four-nation tournament. They will be joined by five players, selected by national coach Darren Maroun, from Lebanon’s year old domestic championship.

Michael Coorey, 26, a towering forward from Kfrzgorb who plays for the Brisbane Broncos, one of the biggest clubs in Australian sport, endorsed Farah’s views: “I always think about the last Med Cup [in November 2002], its a good feeling knowing that our homeland welcomes us with open arms...this is what makes us strong, when we hear the crowd go wild like last year.”

Team-mate Ahmed Bajouri, 22, from Tripoli, is perhaps the most enthusiastic of Lebanon’s crack Australian based players. The winger from South Sydney, one of Australian rugby league’s most famous clubs, has had a frustrating time with injuries in what many accept to be the world’s toughest sport.

“I’ve been ready for three years personally because I’ve been plagued with injuries that stopped me playing for Lebanon in the World Cup in 2000 and in Lebanon last year. I’ve been in anticipation for some time now. When we get there I’ll be peaking in all attributes.”

Hassan Taha, a 19-year-old from Tripoli who plays for Balamand university, is one of seven hopeful domestic players pinning their hopes on selection.

“I’ll do more than I can,” he said when asked how he felt about lining up alongside Lebanon’s professional stars. “I’ll forget about fear; attack and defend, I’ll think of nothing else.”

The Mediterranean Cup begins on 19 October in Tripoli’s Olympic Stadium. Entrance is free throughout the entire tournament to mark rugby league’s continuing development in Lebanon.

His Excellency Mr Ahmed Habbous offers support for the 2003 Mediterranean Cup
Thu Sep 11, 8:22am

The rugby league Mediterranean Cup, scheduled to take place in Lebanon next month for the second consecutive year, has been welcomed by His Excellency Ahmed Habbous, deputy of Tripoli.

Mr Habbous declared: “The city of Tripoli is always proud to host high-profile international sporting events and we are extremely pleased to see that our continuing commitment to the development of rugby league has brought the Mediterranean Cup back to our city.”

Furthermore, Mr Habbous consolidated his support for the tournament, set to be played between the 19-25 October, by saying: “It seems that rugby league has found a home in the north of Lebanon, a sport in its infancy in our country that we are only too happy to nurture.”

Current holders Lebanon, nicknamed the Bartercard Cedars, will face France, Morocco and Serbia & Montenegro over three match-days, on the 19th and 25th in Tripoli’s International Stadium, and on the 22nd in Beirut’s Municipal Stadium.

The Lebanese national team is ranked highly in international rugby league due to the large number of professional players contracted to clubs in Australia.

Med Cup nets sponsor
Thu Sep 04, 5:11am

International trading company Bartercard have been unveiled as official sponsors of the Lebanon national team for this year's Mediterranean Cup.

The Cedars, who won last year's Med Cup courtesy of an emphatic 36-6 victory over France in Tripoli, will face a tough defence of their title against France, Morocco and Serbia & Montenegro when the tournament is staged between 19-25 October.

“At Bartercard, we are very pleased to become part of the launch of this great sport in Lebanon by sponsoring the Lebanese national team during the forthcoming Mediterranean Cup,” said Mr Oussama Fanous, Chairman of Bartercard Lebanon SAL.

Lebanon coach Darren Maroun is currently preparing the core of a strong squad in Australia, where Lebanon boasts a number of elite professional players such as Hassan Saleh, Hazem El Masri and Ahmed Bajouri.

Maroun will integrate five players from Lebanon’s one-year-old domestic competition into the Bartercard Cedars squad of 20 as an aid to the sport’s continuing development.

“As well as continually supporting the local community within Lebanon, we are proud to see interest growing in Rugby League," added Mr Fanous.

“ We look forward to welcoming the Mediterranean Cup to the shores of Lebanon and to see the growth of Rugby League in this country both at an internationally competitive level but also, and more importantly, to see the sport introduced to our schools and youth of Lebanon.”

Entrance to all matches, scheduled for Tripoli and Beirut, will be free of charge to the public.

Second Mediterranean Cup to be held in Lebanon Oct 19-25
Tue Sep 02, 2:56pm

The second edition of rugby league’s Mediterranean Cup will be held as a four-team tournament this year. Lebanon will host the event between the 19-25 October and will defend its crown against France, Morocco and Serbia & Montenegro.

Lebanon won the inaugural event in November courtesy of a stylish 36-6 victory against France in front of an enthusiastic crowd of almost 10,000 supporters in Tripoli, north Lebanon.

After 18-months of preliminary development work in Lebanon the sports minister, Dr Sebouh Hovnanian, recently appointed the Lebanese Rugby League Committee to administer the newest member of Lebanon’s sporting portfolio. The committee is made up of President Mohammad Habbous, General Secretary Danny Kazandjian and members George Maalouf, Sami Garabedian, and Dr Antoine Gergess.

“I am delighted that the Lebanese sports ministry has appointed a rugby league committee,” said Kazandjian, who was sent to Lebanon in March 2002 by the Rugby League International Federation to kick-start the sport in the country. “Our first task is to ensure that we stage a successful Mediterranean Cup which will showcase this tough and exciting sport to the Lebanese public.”

The tournament will consist of three double-header match days, with Tripoli set to stage four matches and Beirut two. The schedule of the tournament is as follows:

October 19th:
France vs. Morocco 2pm
Lebanon vs. Serbia-Montenegro 4pm
Olympic Stadium, Tripoli

October 22nd:
France vs. Serbia-Montenegro 3:30pm
Lebanon vs. Morocco 5:30pm
Beirut Municipal Stadium

October 25th:
Serbia-Montenegro vs. Morocco 2pm
Lebanon vs. France 4pm
Olympic Stadium, Tripoli

There are currently four teams participating in the local Lebanese rugby league competition: American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, Notre Dame University, and Balamand University.

Lebanese Rugby League squad trounces French

The Lebanese national Rugby League team, the Cedars, trounced France 36-6 Saturday Nov 2nd 2002 in the sport’s first international match in the Middle East. LBCI covered the game live. Some 9,000 roaring fans and curiosity-seekers crowded Tripoli’s International Stadium ­to watch the thrashing that let the Cedars achieve three long-awaited goals: to play on Lebanese soil, to beat the French national team and to promote rugby in Lebanon. The team’s players are Lebanese who live in Australia.

Rugby star and captain Hazem al-Masri, also known as al-Magic in Australia, said leading Lebanon to an international victory in its home-soil debut was equal to winning his first Australian Test cap.

The first half of the game was marred by two lengthy power outages, the first after Cedars halfback Robert Farrah opened the scoring to give Lebanon a 4-0 lead.

Undeterred by the outages, the spectators lit thousands of lighters, transforming the dark stadium into a starry one in support for the national team with chants and drums echoing over and over again.

When the lights were restored, Masri kicked his conversion for a 6-0 lead. Winger Samer al-Masri and new Wests Tigers’ Frank Samia ­ the man of the match ­ soon added two more tries before the lights failed again.

With Lebanon up 18-0 at halftime, the coach and the founding father of Lebanese rugby, John Elias, told his players: “We have not won yet. We are here in front of our families and our crowd, let us show them our real strength,”

After halftime, French center Claude Sirvent gave the visiting team a glimmer of hope with a score before replacement Charlie Farrah bagged a bold scoring response to assure the Cedars of victory.

With the game shown live around the world on television and key government and military figures from Lebanon and France on hand as special guests, officials were confident of a big future for the sport in Lebanon. “The crowd was great; they don’t know what the game is about but they were cheering an hour-and-a-half before the game,” said Hazem al-Masri. Members of the French team were extremely disappointed with their performance but still praised the Cedars. “These guys are really passionate and they play with a lot of spirit,” said French coach Gilles Dumas.

The Cedars were formed in 1995 by Elias and within five years shocked the sport by qualifying for the 2000 Rugby World Cup finals. By doing so, they became the first-ever side to represent Lebanon at the finals of any major team sport.

Rubgy World Cup 2000

Magnificent late shows from the Lebanon Cedars in the world cup despite terrible conditions made the talk of the competition. Although they failed to make it to the quarter finals, the sport has been enriched by their participation.

Making it to the last 16 was achievement enough and with the mighty New Zealand, semi finalists Wales, and the winners of the Emerging Nations Cup The Cook Islands in their group it was always unlikely that Lebanon would advance any further. The Cedars however fought hard to the very end and won a great deal of respect and support in the process.

Lebanon is the only nation in the World Cup not to have a competition running in their own country. The Lebanese squad is largely made up of players playing in competitions in Sydney but born in Lebanon or with a strong Lebanese heritage, they boast seven Lebanese-born players in their squad. They are all immensely proud of their Lebanese family backgrounds, none moreso than would-be captain and coach John Elias. A man with a chequered history, Elias has played Rugby League for a variety of clubs in Australia, as well as overseas in England and France, and he has been one of the major driving forces in getting the “Cedars” Lebanese national team up and running. 

Elias has been struck down by stomach cancer, but, despite having major surgery, he will still coach the Cedars, with League icon Artie Beetson on hand to lend support – in the World Cup. 

Although based in Sydney, they have tremendous crowd support from the Lebanese community there. The side has had a very successful track record with wins against Italy July 1998, a series whitewash against Japan November 1998, and a comfortable victory over a French XIII in August 1999. The match served as a selection trial for the Lebanese team as they prepared for the World Cup qualifiers in November 1999. 

Lebanon's biggest star is Canterbury Bulldogs’ try-machine, Hazem El Masri, and they have several other players with plenty of first-grade experience in Australia, notably forwards Darren Maroon of the Sydney Bulls, Canterbury half-back Paul Khoury, plus Sami Chamoun and Charlie Nohra. 

Hoping to inspire Lebanon residents, the World Cup qualifying tournament was the new target for this inspirational side. Dedicating the matches to their former captain who was struck by illness, They soon made their intentions known as they comfortable downed Italy and then ran in a record against Morocco. The Americans approached the final qualifying match also unbeaten but the Lebanese, in typical style, soon demolished them in a crushing 62-8 defeat.

The deal for Lebanon playing in the World Cup is that after the World Cup concludes, that strong development from the Lebanese share of profits get a local competition off the ground. With Bulldogs star Hazem El-Masri leading the way, Lebanon should be very competetive in the World Cup along with strong support in Sydney should see Lebanon develop a local competition and emerge as a powerful force in International Rugby League. 

Lebanon in the Qualifying Mediterranean Cup

The Lebanon Cedars beat Italy 36-16 and then set a world record in the total destruction of Morroco with a 104-0 victory to go up against the USA for the play off qualifier. 

Lebanon vs United States

Lebanon booked their place in the World Cup with a 62-8 demolition of the United States in their own back-yard of Florida in 1999.

The pattern was set early on when their second-rower, Charlie Nohra, flattened the American centre, Bob Balachandran, with a perfectly fair tackle that would have drawn oohs and aahs at the game's highest level. Nohra was later helped off after a tackle that saw St Helens' Vila Matautia sin-binned. The Lebanese captain, Darren Maroon, also took an enforced 10-minute rest from an often passionate match, while one of the USA's other imports from Britain's Super League, Joe Faimalo, was sent off for a high tackle on Chris Salem. 

"It was like a Grand Final, with both teams desperate to go into the World Cup," said Maroon, who needed cortisone injections to play and was late on to the pitch because of that treatment. "But great credit to the Americans; they kept going to the end." 

That they did, but the States' honest willingness was never going to be enough. It took just four minutes for the Lebanon to establish their superiority, Sami Chamoun's drive allowing their eventual man of the match, Paul Khoury, to dart through. Khoury's kick then fooled the full-back, Brian Warren, into playing by the gridiron rather than the rugby league markings to present Rabie Chehade with a try, with Mohamed Chahal, David Lambert and Travis Touma all following before half-time. 

The Americans regrouped somewhat for the second half, but once Salford's Faimalo was dismissed it was always a question of whether they could keep the score down. 

Khoury set up his near-namesake, loose forward Michael Coorey, for two tries, Hazem El Masri scored a try to add to his nine goals and Salem brought up the half-century, with Coorey's hat-trick and Khoury's second completing damage that would have been even more severe if the Lebanese had not ruined a number of other opportunities with erratic handling. 

"We were disappointed with our ball control, but at the end of the day it was our defence that won it for us," their coach, Steve Ghosn, said. "We've got some good hitters out there." 

A battered United States would vouch for that. "They are playing from the time they're knee-high and we've been together for a couple of weeks," said the American captain, Jeff Preston. He was one of their casualties, suffering an agonising knee injury that forced him off the field before their consolation try from Shayne Mains. 

"They haven't had much to cheer about in Beirut for a while," said Ghosn with some understatement. Their rugby league team may yet give them something. 

Lebanon vs New Zealand

New Zealand boss Frank Endacott was concerned before the match that his side would be a bit rusty in their first World Cup outing. As in turned out, he had nothing to worry about. The Kiwis crushed a gutsy Lebanon side in a 12-try romp in abysmal weather at rain-swept Kingsholm. 

New Zealand never looked back after Willie Talau dived over in the corner early on and the only black spot came when Henry Paul limped off with a recurrence of an ankle injury. 

The quality of the opposition was the telling factor for the Lebanon, who had been tipped as the tournament's dark horses before the World Cup. 

New Zealand's Tonie Carroll Endacott said afterwards "Lebanon impressed me with the way they started off. They went out there with plenty of gusto and they finished the same way." 

We've never played in conditions like that before. The players were shivering out there Lebanon coach John Elias admitted that his team were out of their depth at times. He said: "New Zealand were too good for us, but we can only learn from that. "That was a big step up in class for some of our boys." 

Lebanon's star player Hazem El-Masri added: "We never lay down and that was the main thing. We've never played in conditions like that before. The players were shivering out there." 

Three Lebanon players had to be treated for hypothermia after playing in Sunday's World Cup opener at a cold and rain-lashed Gloucester. Second rower Michael Coorey and centres George Katrib and Travis Touma, who all play their rugby in Sydney, Australia, were reported to be still feeling unwell on Monday, the day after the team's 64-0 loss to New Zealand. 

Katrib sustained knee cartilage damage in the match, winger Bilal Najjarin picked up a leg injury, and second rower Sami Chamoun damaged his shoulder. 

Lebanon vs Wales

Wales hung on by their fingertips at a wind-swept Stradey Park as two late Hasan Saleh tries almost gave Lebanon the spoils at the death. 

Wales survived a Lebanese onslaught at the start of the second-half, but looked to have made the game safe with a moment of inspiration from Leeds stand-off Iestyn Harris. 

He made the telling break which sent Wigan's Wes Davies over under the posts and appeared to have made the game safe for the Welsh at 24-10. 

But Lebanon hit back and bowed out of the World Cup in style as the impressive Saleh almost snatched an improbable victory. 

His two tries within the final three minutes stunned Wales and highlighted glaring concentration and defensive problems for coach Clive Griffiths. 

Having taken a pasting against New Zealand last Sunday, we expected a bit of a backlash from them, but not in quite that fashion 

Loose forward Daher split the Welsh defence with a great dummy to put Saleh away for the first and Saleh then scored again with the final move of the match. 

Wales were rattled and had referee David Pakieto not blown up after Hasim El Masri's final conversion, the Lebanese would have fancied their chances of a major upset. 

"We were totally in control during the first 25 minutes then Lebanon scored and it gave them some hope," said Wales coach Clive Griffiths. "Lebanon had been out of the game and then all of a sudden they were back in it. Our think tank was not of the highest order during the second-half and in the end we did just enough to win," he complained. 

"Having taken a pasting against New Zealand last Sunday, we expected a bit of a backlash from them, but not in quite that fashion." 

Wales dominated a one-sided first-half, running in four tries before the Lebanese found their feet with a try of their own from Michael Coorey after 35 minutes. 

Wales' tries came from Harris (2), Sterling and Cunningham, but they were not enough to dent the resilient Lebanese. 

Before Coorey's opening try the speed and pace of the Welsh back line had threatened a rout, but Lebanon woke up as they adapted to the game. 

Wales lost their composure and took their feet off the gas as the first-half drew to a close and that pattern was repeated at the start of the second when Sarem El Masri hacked on a loose pass from Anthony Farrell to score. 

Harris then provided what should have been the turning point of the game on the hour when he drifted lazily across the Lebanese defence before injecting an impressive burst of speed. 

His inside pass to Wes Davies and his subsequent conversion should have made the game safe for Wales, but they had not counted on Saleh's intervention. 

Both sides tackled ferociously throughout the game, with Mr Pakieto happy to let some rather dubious high challenges go unquestioned. 


Wales: Tries: Harris (2), Sterling, Cunningham, Davies. Cons: Harris 2. 
Lebanon Tries: Coorey, S El Masri, Saleh (2). Cons: H El Masri 3. 

Lebanon vs Cook Islands

The dramatic finale was fitting for the first ever rugby league game held indoors - the roof of the Millennium Stadium was closed.

The Cedars, were trailing 22-10 with five minutes remaining, however, you can never write off the fighting spirit of the Lebanese. After a heavy defeat at the hands of the New Zealand side they bounced back with great courage and determination to nearly upset the Welsh. This time with minutes left they crossed twice to snatch victory from the gallant Cook Islands side. Hazem El-Mazri known as "El Magic" scored his second try of the match three minutes from time and then potted the match-tying conversion from a difficult angle to give both sides their first World Cup point with a score of 22 all.

Lebanon, dominated possession through out the match but failed to convert their opportunities. They threatened early when winger Mohammad Abbas he was pushed out a metre short of the line. With the Cook Islands' first real possession scrum-half Leroy Joe darted from dummy half to cross under the posts. Abbas again went close to scoop up a long kick through but his opposite winger Tiri Toa hauled him down inches short. In the same move he did make it over the line but the try was ruled out for an earlier knock on. 

The Cook Islands defence again held firm to deny Abbas in the same corner before the play swept to his team-mate on the opposite flank - Travis Touma - to chalk up the Cedars' first points. 

But from the restart the Cooks hit back when impressive centre Peter Lewis broke the defence and his endeavour was capped by loose forward Berryman. 

He waltzed past an ineffectual tackle and then added the conversion to extend the Cooks' lead. St Helens' centre Kevin Iro had a try ruled out after a forward pass before Lewis again broke the line a drew tacklers to release winger Toa to race in for the Cook's third try. 

Living off scraps of possession the Cook's led at the break but their willingness to throw the ball around was penalised when El-Mazri intercepted to race in from 60 metres out. 

Lebanon botched two premium try-scoring opportunities in the second half the best of which Touma failed to catch a bomb with the tryline open. 

Much has been made of the Lebanon's participation in the World Cup, given that the sport of rugby league is not played in the country. But the determination of their Australian-based team was epitomised by prop Sami Chamoun, who refused to leave the field despite pulling a thigh muscle as he fell in a tackle and later when he dropped to the ground after suffering a robust slap on the side of the head from Adam Cook.

With six minutes left Berryman's second looked to have sealed the match but the Cedars' hit back through centre Hassan Saleh. With time almost up the man known as "El Magic" picked up a loose ball and muscled his way over under two tacklers. 

He dusted himself off to slot the conversion to set up a frenetic final few minutes. 

"It has been an honour and privilege to be involved," said prop Sami Chamoun. "Most of the players have troubled backgrounds and we just wanted to put something back into the sport which has given us all so much."

After winning three man of the match awards on the trot, Chamoun is now looking for an English club and his bravery typified the spirit of the Lebanese squad.


Coach: John Elias. 
Colours: Red, White and Green. 
World Ranking: 16. 
World Cup 2000 Group: 2. 

Sun Oct 29: Lebanon vs New Zealand, Kingsholm, Gloucester, 3.00pm. Result: 0-64 
Thu Nov 2: Lebanon vs Wales, Stradey Park, Llanelli, 7.30pm. Result: 22-24 
Sun Nov 5: Cook Islands Vs Lebanon Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, 12.30pm. Result: 22-22

Captain: Darren Maroon (Sydney Bulls). 
Mohammed Abbas (Sydney Bulls). 
Ahmed Bajouri (Western Suburbs Magpies). 
Mo Chahal (Sydney Bulls). 
Michael Coorey (Balmain Tigers). 
Ray Daher (Cabramatta). 
Monah El Ahmad(Cabramatta). 
Fady Elchab (Sydney Bulls). 
Hazem El-Masri (Canterbury Bulldogs). 
Samer El-Masri (Sydney Roosters). 
George Katrib (Sydney Bulls). 
Paul Khoury (Canterbury Bulldogs). 
David Lambert (Sydney Bulls). 
Joe Lichaa (Sydney Roosters). 
Anthony Mansour (Sydney Bulls). 
Bilal Najjarin (St George-Illawarra). 
Charlie Nohra (Sydney Bulls). 
Hassan Saleh (Canterbury Bulldogs).
Nedol Saleh (Western Suburbs Magpies). 
Chris Salem (Sydney Bulls). 
Anthony Semrani (Canterbury Bulldogs). 
Jason Stanton (Sydney Bulls). 
Kandy Tamer (unattached). 
Travis Touma (Sydney Bulls). 
Eben Goddard (St.George-Illawarra Dragons).

Place mouse pointer on the pictures: 

Captain Darren Maroon

Hazem El-Masri

Stop me if you can. Lebanon burst past the USA to reach the World Cup

Who's got the ball? The action gets underway, Lebanon vs USA

No pain, no gain - Lebanon hits an American brick wall

Lebanon celebrate a fantastic victory against USA

The New Zealand team during the haka prior to the match between New Zealand and Lebanon.

New Zealand captain Ritchi Barnett dives over the line to score.

Henry Paul of New Zealand is tackled by Paul Khoury and George Najjarin of Lebanon.

This is gonna hurt. Three Cedars pounce on a Kiwi player.

Lebanon finds going tough against the Kiwis

Henry, on the attack, is met by a pair of Cedars.

Nathan Cayless is clobbered by Lebanon's Monah El-Ahmad.

Lebanon put up a fight right to the end

Kieron Cunningham of Wales puts the grip on Hassen Saleh

Iestyn Harris breaks the tackle of Hazem El-Masri of Lebanon to score

Justin Morgan of Wales is tackled by Monah Elahmed (number 10) of Lebanon

Welsh captain and star player Iestyn Harris finds himself in trouble

Lebanon's Travis Touma in action against the Cook Islands

The Cooks attack Lebanon's line.

George Tuakura of the Cook Islands charges towards Lebanon's defence

Cooks try to break through

Cook Islands halted by Mount Lebanon