venue: Hostler Centre AUB, Beirut
24th February 2012
Full Match Report
The first international under-18s rugby league fixture in the Middle East, which saw Lebanon and a Saudi Select draw 22-all, was overshadowed by off-field tragedy with the death of Lebanon scrum half Khaled el Masri, who was killed after he had been out celebrating with his family.
Khaled was hit by a car in Batroun when returning home in the early hours of Saturday morning. His cousin is fighting for his life in intensive care. Khaled attended Amer Faker El Dine School in Tripoli, where he had also begun his rugby league education aged 13, and had played a major role in the match. It was his third year as a Junior Cedar after playing in the under-16’s in 2010 and 2011.
The under-18s team led by captain Omar Marhaba and LRLF Area Manager Nader Mgheit, representing the Lebanese Rugby League Federation, paid their respects to Khaled’s family during the burial today.
LRLF COO Remond Safi said, “We are so very saddened by the death of Khaled. He was one of the brightest rays of light on the junior rugby league scene. He was a very good player and had a great future in the game. But more than that, he was a beautiful young man and a most supportive and encouraging spirit.”
He continued, “On behalf of all its players, coaches, staff and everyone associated with Lebanese Rugby League, the LRLF board wishes to send its deepest condolences to Khaled el Masri’s family and friends on his passing. There will be a one minute silence before the next LRLF game in the remembrance of this bright light that was snuffed out way too soon.”
Rugby League European Federation General Manager Danny Kazandjian added, “I coached Khaled as a 14-year-old and despite his size, he was always one of the most promising kids. He was quiet and came from a very deprived area but was a terrific defensive player - he thrived on the pitch.”
Earlier in the day, the outcome at the American University of Beirut’s Charles Hostler Student Center was exactly the same as the under 16s fixture between the nations two years before.
In the first under-18 international in the Middle East the young Cedars were first on the score board through Maxime Chalhoub in the sixth minute, courtesy of a barnstorming run.
KSA responded with winger Saeed Anam crossing twice in four minutes to take the lead. Chalhoulb went in for his second shortly afterwards, Youssef Safadi giving the Saudis a 12-8 half time lead.
With the intensity raised, Adam Dahbache scored for the Cedars in the opening exchanges of the second half to level, Hisham Nassar then putting the Camels back in front on the hour. Prop Chalhoub claimed his hat trick and, in the thrilling closing stages, Omar Marhaba and Nassar swapped tries to leave honours shared.
Ali Kanj, George Farah, Adam Dahbache, Yehya El Hussien, Nour El Baba, Mohamed Dahbache, Khaled el Masri, George Yazbeck, Thomas Zachariou, Maxime Chalhoub, Mahmoud Hassan, Brain Hajjar, Omar Marhaba, Jad Rizk, Aref Barakeh, Samer Chmysem, Liam Chedrawi
SAUDI SCHOOLS SELECT U18
Mohammed Mannaa, Saeed Anam, Abdulrawoof Abbas, Yousef Safadi, Liam McRaith,Usman Naveed, Ahmad Obeid, Salman Abualnasr, Hasan Zakzouk, Omer Rathore, Samer Balaa, Mazen Ghobara, Farid Abdulwahab, Hisam Nassar, Osama Abdullah, Nawaf Alquadaibi, Zander Potgieter