Jounieh Hummingbirds coach Ghassan Dandach has claimed that his side’s 20-6 win over AUB, in the first-ever women’s rugby league encounter in the Middle East, marks a triumphant landmark for the sport in the region.
“When I started training the girls, I was expecting a result,” he said. “But after the kick-off I was just mesmerized watching how the girls played and the connection they set with their crowd, it was magic.”
The match was played at Jounieh’s Fouad Chehab stadium and, in a fiery start, AUB front rower Zeina Ibrahim was sent off for her part in a scuffle. Douha Knio the crossed for the hosts on 22 minutes, the only score of a tense first half.
Full-back Nayla Saniour posted a try double on 49 and 61 minutes to extend the home side’s lead before AUB’s Nour Saman cut the deficit with a 66th minute touchdown, Lubna Saso converting.
The revival was short lived as Hummingbirds’ winger Elsa Gharious scored three minutes later, Camelia Hamze kicking two conversions for Jounieh.
AUB coach Sol Mokdad noted: “The atmosphere at this historic event was incredible and I would like to thank everybody for turning up and supporting our development. I was impressed with the physicality and heart shown by the AUB ladies.
“The Hummingbirds were a bigger team and we played more than half the game with 12 players, that sending off really put us on the back foot but this event was a huge success and congratulations to everybody involved.”
Rim Wazni the AUB captain, added: “Regardless of the outcome, this game was a worthy experience for both teams and an unprecedented event in the history of Lebanese rugby league. It was much needed and we will now keep building on it to become even stronger.”
JOUNIEH RLFC HUMMINGBIRDS
N. Saniour, E. Gharios, N. Kibbi, L. Acra, M. Kesserwani, N. Mufarrij, C. Hamzeh, R. Dahdouli, D. Knio, T. Fleyfel, T. Keyrouz, K. Roukoz, N. Dennaoui, Subs: O. Nohra, Y. Salameh, G. Abi Akl, J. Habib
C. Badawi, R. Abdallah, M. Mourad, Y. Beaini, A. Saadeh, N. Khauli, L. Saso, Z. Ibrahim, R. Wazni, J. Abdallah, N. Sheimi, M. Jannoun, A. Afyouni, Subs: M. Ayache, N. Samman, D. Monteduro, N. Achkar
photos Janos Schmidt