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Rugby in Lebanon: The Cedars’ Strong Roots in Rugby

Rugby ball on a mountainous vista at sunset.

Rugby may not be the first sport you think of in Lebanon, but it’s growing fast. Known as ‘the Cedars’, Lebanon’s rugby league team is climbing the ranks with a strong Aussie influence.

This article will dive into how this small middle-eastern country is making big waves in the rugby scene. Discover Lebanon’s unlikely love affair with rugby!

Key Takeaways

  • Lebanese rugby league has deep roots tied to the community in Australia, where many players learn and grow their skills.
  • Pioneers like Hazem El Masri have elevated the profile of Lebanon’s national team, The Cedars, marking them as strong competitors on the world stage.
  • Player safety is a key priority for Lebanon’s rugby league, influencing decisions such as where matches are played.
  • Rugby league significantly impacts Lebanese identity and culture both at home and abroad.
  • Development plans focus on youth programmes and international collaboration to ensure a bright future for rugby in Lebanon.

Evolution of Rugby League in Lebanon

Lebanon’s rugby league has deep roots that trace back to the early sporting landscape, with pioneers and visionaries leading to the formation of the first Lebanese rugby league clubs.

As the sport grew, it faced challenges and triumphs while being influenced by local and international factors.

Early Sporting Landscape

The roots of rugby in Lebanon trace back to the influx of Lebanese immigrants who carried the sport with them. Fostering a love for rugby union initially, these communities laid a foundation that would later see a transition to rugby league as their preferred form of the game.

Clubs started to emerge, driven by passionate players and supporters who shared a common heritage.

These early teams were often informal gatherings where Lebanese Australians could bond over their enthusiasm for rugby. They played local matches that ignited broader interest within the Lebanese community, slowly shaping the sporting landscape into one that embraced rugby league’s fast-paced action and unique challenges.

This groundswell led to formal recognition, paving the way for future triumphs on both domestic and international stages.

Pioneers and Visionaries

Pioneers and visionaries in the evolution of rugby league in Lebanon have played a crucial role in shaping the sport. Hazem El Masri, Hassan Saleh, Abbas Miski, Jacob Kiraz, and Josh Mansour are some of the influential figures who have represented Lebanon in rugby league.

The strong influence of Lebanese heritage from Australia has contributed to the success of the Cedars rugby team. This collaboration has led to significant strides for Lebanon national rugby league team in achieving triumphs within the sport.

Lebanese community members’ involvement at a strong level with rugby league clubs in Australia has showcased their significant influence on the sport. Players being based in Australia further illustrates how pioneering efforts have helped shape and develop Lebanese rugby league into what it is today, showcasing its firm roots within both communities.

Formation of the First Lebanese Rugby League Clubs

The first Lebanese Rugby League clubs were established by passionate pioneers and visionaries who saw the potential for the sport to thrive in Lebanon. Local enthusiasts, inspired by the game’s rich history and culture, came together to form these initial clubs, setting the stage for rugby league’s growth in the country.

The establishment of these early clubs laid the foundation for a strong and enduring rugby community in Lebanon, sparking interest and competition among aspiring players and fans alike.

Aspiring local enthusiasts with a passion for the game took a proactive approach to establish these groundbreaking clubs, marking an important milestone in introducing rugby league to Lebanon’s sporting landscape.

Growth and Development of the Sport

The institutionalisation of Rugby League in Lebanon paved the way for its growth and development, influenced by both local and international factors. From facing challenges to celebrating triumphs, the sport has continued to thrive in Lebanon’s sporting landscape.

Institutionalisation of Rugby League

The Lebanese Rugby Federation has played a pivotal role in the institutionalisation of rugby league in Lebanon. The federation has worked tirelessly to establish structures, rules, and regulations for the sport, ensuring its growth and development.

With a focus on player safety and professionalism, the federation has implemented training programs and competition frameworks that have elevated the standard of rugby league in Lebanon.

Underpinning this institutionalisation is the strong influence of local and international partnerships. The collaboration with Australian rugby league clubs, players, coaches, and officials has brought valuable expertise to Lebanon’s rugby league landscape.

Local and International Influences

The success of the Cedars rugby team is greatly influenced by their base in Australia, where they benefit from superior training and competition. The squad has seen significant input from players with Lebanese heritage in Australia, underlining the strong influence of the Lebanese community on rugby league.

This has led to a considerable impact on the sport’s development, with many community members actively involved in Australian rugby league clubs. President of the Lebanon Rugby League, George Elias, has stressed player safety as a priority over matches held in Lebanon while emphasising the significant strides made by the national team towards triumph.

Lebanon’s national rugby league team, known as “the Cedars,” has been successful due to its close ties and influences from Australia. Players like Hazem El Masri, Hassan Saleh and Abbas Miski have contributed significantly to this stellar achievement.

Challenges and Triumphs

In its quest for rugby league triumph, the Lebanon national rugby league team faced numerous challenges but has celebrated remarkable successes along the way.

  1. Athlete Recruitment: The challenge of recruiting talented athletes with Lebanese heritage from Australia to represent the national team was overcome by fostering strong ties within the Lebanese community in Australia, resulting in a roster of skilled players such as Hazem El Masri and Abbas Miski.
  2. Player Safety and Match Locations: Prioritising player safety led to the decision to play matches in Australia instead of Lebanon due to unstable conditions, exemplifying a strong commitment to ensuring the welfare of their players.
  3. International Recognition and Identity: Overcoming the challenge of being an underdog in a sport dominated by other nations allowed Lebanon to find an identity in rugby league while gaining international recognition for their determination and prowess.
  4. Institutional Development: The challenge of institutionalising rugby league within Lebanon was met with significant strides in establishing clubs and leagues, ultimately contributing to the sport’s growth and development.
  5. Community Influence: The influential role of the Lebanese community on rugby league in Australia became a driving force behind the success of the national team, further solidifying their presence within the Australian sporting landscape.

Contemporary Rugby League in Lebanon

The success and achievements of the Lebanese rugby league have made a significant impact on the local community, showcasing the sport’s growing popularity in Lebanon. Read on to learn more about the Cedars’ strong roots in rugby.

Successes and Achievements

  1. The Lebanon national rugby league team, nicknamed “the Cedars” after the Lebanese cedar tree, has made significant strides in the sport.
  2. The squad’s success has been attributed to being based in Australia, providing access to better training and competition.
  3. Players with Lebanese heritage from Australia, such as Hazem El Masri, Hassan Saleh, Abbas Miski, Jacob Kiraz, and Josh Mansour, have represented Lebanon in rugby league.
  4. The team has prioritised player safety by choosing to play matches in Australia instead of Lebanon.
  5. Rugby league has helped Lebanon find an identity in an unlikely sport, showcasing the strong roots of the Cedars in rugby.

Impact on the Lebanese Community

Rugby league has a significant impact on the Lebanese community, especially in Australia. Many players with Lebanese heritage from Australia have represented Lebanon in rugby league, embodying the strong influence of the Lebanese community on the sport.

The success of the Cedars rugby team is closely linked to their base in Australia, where they benefit from better training and competition opportunities. Moreover, there is a strong involvement of the Lebanese community in rugby league clubs at various levels in Australia, highlighting their deep-rooted connection to the sport and its development.

As rugby continues to thrive within the Lebanese community, it showcases how this unlikely sport has provided a platform for identity and recognition. The support and participation of individuals from Lebanese descent have undoubtedly contributed to both local and international triumphs that continue to shape the future prospects for rugby league in Lebanon.

Future Prospects

With plans and goals for development, the future prospects of rugby in Lebanon look promising and there is potential for national team success. Read on to discover more about the exciting journey of Rugby League in Lebanon.

Plans and Goals for Development

The Lebanon Rugby League aims to further develop and expand the sport within the country by focusing on youth development programs and grassroots initiatives. The goal is to nurture a new generation of talented players, providing them with access to top-tier coaching, facilities, and resources.

Additionally, plans are in place to enhance the infrastructure for rugby league across Lebanon, establishing more clubs and leagues in various regions to increase participation and interest in the sport.

By setting these goals for development, the Lebanon Rugby League aspires to build a solid foundation that will contribute to the long-term success and growth of rugby league within the country.

Furthermore, there is an emphasis on fostering international partnerships with established rugby nations like Australia to provide opportunities for Lebanese players to learn from experienced professionals and gain exposure at a higher level of competition.

Potential for National Team Success

As the Lebanon national rugby league team continues to focus on development, there is a growing potential for national team success in the future. The integration of players with Lebanese heritage from Australia has brought an infusion of talent and skill, contributing to the rise of the Cedars in rugby league.

With strong community support and access to better training and competition opportunities in Australia, the Cedars are poised for greater achievements on the international stage.

Moving forward, as efforts continue towards fostering growth and skills development within the team, there is a clear pathway for the Lebanon national rugby league team to make significant strides towards success in major tournaments such as the Rugby World Cup.


The Cedars, Lebanon’s national rugby league team, has made significant strides in the sport, with players based in Australia having a strong influence on their success. The Lebanese community has played a pivotal role in shaping rugby league in Australia through active involvement at various levels.

Despite challenges, the growing achievements of the Cedars demonstrate their deep roots and potential for future triumphs. Exciting prospects lie ahead as Lebanon aims to further develop its rugby league program and continue making an impact on the international stage.


1. What is the history of rugby in Lebanon?

Rugby in Lebanon started growing popular thanks to the strong roots set by passionate players and teams, known as The Cedars.

2. How does rugby in Lebanon compare with rugby in Australia?

While Australia is renowned for its success in rugby, Lebanon has been building up its presence with dedicated teams making their own mark on the sport.

3. What are a try and a conversion in Lebanese rugby?

In Lebanese rugby, just like elsewhere, scoring a try earns points when a player touches the ball down behind the opponents’ goal line; afterwards, they can score extra points through a conversion kick.

4. Have The Cedars ever had any major triumphs in rugby?

Yes! The Cedars have celebrated triumphs on international stages, proudly showcasing their skill and passion for the game of Rugby.

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