After a ten-year hiatus, the Mediterranean Cup has been resurrected by the Italian and Lebanese rugby leagues.
The teams will play in a one-off match on 11 June in Catania, Sicily, at the Centro Universitario Sportivo’s Cittadello dello Sport. In an agreement reached by the two federations, principally domestic league players will be used. Those selected come from 13 clubs.
The last time the nations met they fought out a sensational 19-all draw in Belgrade that saw the Azzurri edge into the 2013 World Cup ahead of the Cedars, avenging the Italian’s 1999 defeat in France that paved the way for Lebanon’s World Cup bow in 2000.
Federazione Italiana Rugby League vice president Tiziano Franchini said: “It is a pleasure to relaunch this important international event, alongside the Lebanese Rugby League Federation. We want to start this year with a prestigious competition. We have selected 54 players in an initial train-on squad for this match and will hold two camps to reduce the number. We want to have the best team possible for this event.”
“It’s an exciting time for the Lebanon boys who will be traveling to Sicily,” said Cedar’s interim head coach Tarik Houchar. “From the domestic season just finished and the training the squad has done, the boys are heading in the right direction with their preparation. I’m confident the players will be ready for battle and do their country proud come June. The local competition has come a long way, the calibre of player is improving and the skill level is getting better. It’s an exciting time for the LRLF.”
The LRLF hosted three consecutive Mediterranean Cups between 2002-4, winning them all, against Serbia, Morocco and France. Italy and Lebanon have met five times, with Lebanon having won three games and Italy one.
Spain and Malta were also involved in the discussions surrounding the competition, which the four nations envisage will be played annually, rotated around the participants.
Italy – 54 man train-on squad: Luca Lattanzi, Andrea Leone, Simone Stanissa, Alessandro Narduzzi (Api Di Fogliano), Fabio Galetto, Francesco Cominato, Nicholas Cominato, Simone Boscolo, Marco Brogiato, Michele Sutto, Filippo Affanni, Mhadbhi Saif (Arieti Este XIII), Agatino Magrì (Belpasso Rectores), Alessandro Santarelli, Patrik Ziliotti, Riccardo Dodi (Brianza Tigers), Andrea Gazzoli, Luca Milani, Giuseppe Pagani, Nicola Bellotti, Marco Galli, Cosimo Corvino, Paolo Volpini, Luca Rossetti, Pierangelo Ceretti (Lions Brescia), Gioele Celerino (Newcastle Falcons), Catalin Diac, Jaume Giorgis, Fausto Perissinotto, Riccardo Amerio, Luca Amelio, (North West Roosters), Riccardo Attley, Andrea Gatti, Jacopo Trabacchi, (Piacenza Rugby), Nicolas Faletti (Rugby Rovigo), Edoardo Pezzano, Andrea D’arrigo, Matteo Mazzoleni, Massimiliano Giannino, Igor Giammario, Alessandro Florio, Antonino Arrigo (Spartans Catania), Fabrizio Ciaurro, Michele Verardi (Tirreno Sharks), Bara Soulimane, Drake Muyodi, Brad Calcagno, Luca Bondioli, Diego Del Nevo, Raffaele Dalla Ragione, Emanuele Passera (XIII Del Ducato), El Medhi Immadou (XIII Della Ghirlandina), Davide Spinnato, Francesco Di Trapani (XIII Lovers Palermo)
Lebanon – 25 man train-on squad: Imad Chidiac, Mounir Finan, Raymond Finan, Robin Hachache, Rudy Hachache, Jad Hachem, Yves Khoury, George Maalouf, Jonas Morkaar, Hazem Tawil, Nabil Tawil (Immortals RLFC), Ghassan Dandach, Steven Sokhen, Raeh Taouk (Jounieh RLFC), Ali Abou Arabi, Rami Abboud, Joesph Aslan, Kevin Sassin (Tripoli RLFC), Julien Dirani, Robert Farajala, Wael Harb, Gianni Hammoudeh, Raymond Sabat, Mike Tawk, Joseph Zeidan (Wolves RLFC)