A late penalty goal allowed Lebanon to lift the Mediterranean Cup for the fifth time, in a tough encounter with Italy in Beirut that was not without last-play drama.
The Cedars led 6-4 when Italian centre Mirco Bergamasco touched town in the corner, on the end of what they thought was the final move. In the confusion, however, it emerged that the hooter had already sounded so the hosts retained the trophy they had narrowly won last year, in Sicily.
Both sides are preparing for the World Cup in October, and both teams were made up exclusively of domestic quota players, some of whom will be part of their respective World Cup squads to play in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Brad Fittler to head Cedar’s World Cup coaching team.
The Lebanon Rugby League Federation (LRLF) is delighted to announce the appointment of Brad Fittler as the new head coach of the national team. The former Kangaroo captain and twice World Cup winner will take charge of the Cedars at this autumn’s tournament, effective immediately.
Fittler, who currently works extensively in the media, has a wealth of coaching experience, most recently coaching the City Origin team. Other previous appointments include assistant coach of the New South Wales State of Origin team and NRL’s team, Sydney Roosters from 2007-2009.
Commenting on his appointment, Fittler said: “The opportunity to guide a developing nation to this year’s Rugby League World Cup was one that I’m eager to take up. I also look forward to going to Lebanon to provide knowledge to assist them further develop their well-established local championships.
“Lebanon’s draw is the toughest possible – France, England and Australia have over 300 years of history, against Lebanon’s 15. However, I know the Lebanese are clever, hardworking, courageous and industrious, and will no doubt be up to any challenges, as they have proven in rebuilding their nation and in the positive contribution their diaspora has made throughout the world – with no better example than in Australia.
“The thing about history is that there are moments which can turn it in certain directions. This is our opportunity to be part of history and to continue making a social impact on Lebanon’s civil society through rugby league.”
LRLF CEO Remond Safi hailed the appointment as a positive outcome not only for the Cedars’ World Cup campaign but also the continuing improvement of the game in Lebanon. “Brad’s appointment shows that the LRLF continues to pursue excellence of standards and is confident of competing in the World Cup behind an elite coach,” said Safi.
“The LRLF was really pleased with the calibre of candidates who applied for the role, but Brad’s ability and desire to engage with the Lebanese rugby league community, not just the national team, has been the most pleasing aspect of our discussions. On behalf of the LRLF I would like to welcome Brad on board and we are all really excited about working with him.”
Fittler will head out to Lebanon to experience the unique Lebanese rugby league scene for himself, meet the federation’s stakeholders and assist in cultivating the LRLF’s technical pathways. The five local leagues have just concluded their seasons. The LRL club competition is supported by two college divisions and two school divisions, while a women’s league is scheduled to commence in the new season, beginning in October.
Fittler is sponsored by Jasara Constructions, who recently came on board as a partner of the Lebanon national team.
Lebanon has been drawn in Pool A in the world cup and will play Australia, England and France, with the top three teams from that group progressing to the quarter finals.
Lebanon RLWC 2017 SCHEDULE:
Lebanon vs France, 29 October 2017, Canberra Stadium.
Lebanon vs England, 5 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium
Lebanon vs Australia, 11 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium.