venue: Olympic Stadium, Tripoli
2nd November 2002
Full Match Report
Lebanon have defeated France 36-6 in the first International played in the Middle East with Hazem El Masri the star landing six goals from seven attempts and dazzling the French defenders with his brilliance at fullback. A strong crowd of 9,713 turned up to watch Lebanon's first International on home soild and their first official Test match - despite competing in the 2000 World Cup.
The only controversy from the match came with two power blackouts during the first half but that only put a temporary delay to the excellent performance of Lebanon to stamp themselves as a Rugby League nation. Lebanon led 18-0 at halftime and went on to win 36-6 with Robert Farrah, Samer El Masri, Frank Samia, Charlie Farrah, Ray Daher and Anthony Farrah all scoring tries.
France grabbed a try through Claude Sirvent with Laurent Frayssinous converting the try.
Most of the discussion after the match centered around whether El Masri will captain Lebanon or attempt to play for Australia in the 2004 World Cup. El Masri played for Australia in the Test against New Zealand and handled himself well in that match.
El Masri said, "Every kid's dream is to represent Australia. It was an amazing experience - a big buzz for me. The home town, coming back 15 years after I was last here, to captain the team and to win, it was a tremendous experience."
Another issue involving El Masri was his performance at fullback. El Masri was graded at Canterbury as a fullback but made his debut in first grade on the wing due to a shortage of players in that position. El Masri has done well on the wing but his most effective position is fullback.
RLIF representative Tas Baiteri said, "Looking at some of the events we've had this year, such as the Russia and USA game which attracted 30,000 in Moscow, it's clear that there are plenty of good things going on outside the eastern seaboard of Australia and the north of England,"
The game marked the tremendous rise of Lebanese football that first entered a side into the World Sevens five years ago. Coach John Elias felt the Cedars could defeat England within the next ten years.
H. El Masri, Najareen, H. Saleh, Samia, S. El Masri, Daher , A. Farah, Elahmed, A. Semrani R, C. Farah, Khoury, Lichaa. Subs: Farah, F. Hachache, M. El Sayfi
Van Snick, Houlès, Dulac, Sirvent, Zitter, Frayssinous, Rinaldi, Carrasco, Shead, Jampy, Gagliazzo, Wulf, Borlin. Subs: Gerin, Pramil, Fellous, Raguin