|Lebanon spreading the ball against France|
The Cedars were formed in 1998 from Lebanese immigrants living in Australia. They also have a domestic competition but it is difficult in a strife torn region to grow and prosper as a sport. So how did their 2017 tournament go?
Report card: First up a mention that this is the second time the Cedars have made it to a RL WC. They also participated in 2000 and while they were walloped by a strong New Zealand side first up, they nearly upset Wales and then drew with the Cook Islands. Some really hard luck has been experienced in subsequent qualifying efforts before finally getting back in 2017.
For a start they were in the pool of death, where two top seeds were also included (ridiculous), so a win against third seed France was crucial. They managed that by scraping home 29-18 in a close one. They then lost to England 29-10 in a gutsy effort and likewise in going down to Australia 34-0. A quarter final against Tonga was the reward and a narrow loss 24-22 was the end of the road. Once the disappointment has subsided, they will take pride in what they achieved.
For a team with just five full time players, you would have to say they boxed above their weight. They went so close to a semi final berth. Although the side was made up almost exclusively of Australian Lebanese, their fine effort justified that position and hopefully the game back home can benefit from their success.
Final ranking for the tournament: 5th to 8th (out of 14 teams).
Picture source: RLEF.
Other teams ranked at the 2017 WC. Click on the nation to go to that article.
12th - 14th: Scotland, Wales, USA.
9th - 11th: France, Italy, Samoa.
5th - 8th: Ireland, Lebanon, New Zealand, PNG.
1st - 4th: Australia, England, Fiji, Tonga.