Arabic tournament – In the same way as the Games of the Francophony or the Commonwealth Games, the Arabic Federation of Rugby wanted to organize its 7s rugby tournament. Outside the Arab League, the Federation counts to date 10 countries and wishes to welcome others in the coming years. Current members are the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and no less than 5 African countries : Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt which are at the origin of this union.
After he attended the tournament, we interviewed Abdelaziz Bougja, Rugby Africa’s chairman and also Executive committee member of the Arabic Federation of Rugby :
(Rugby Africa) – What does this union consist of ? It is still not really well known by the public :
(Abdelaziz Bougja) This federation is a gathering of countries which have the Arabic language for common denominator. For now, only 10 countries are represented but the door is not closed, Senegal or Mauritania could join us for example. The desire for this federation is to develop rugby, to maintain the mutual enrichment of the Arabic language and naturally to promote the sports values. The union exists since 2002, it boasted very few activities until last year when it organized its first tournament in Egypt. This year the tournament was organized in Morocco, and was welcomed by Rugby Africa.
– What did you think of this tournament in Marrakesh ?
The tournament was very well organized and well covered by the press. The rugby level was low but the union shows many initiatives and wishes to increase considerably the number of teams and meetings to propose a better level of rugby.
– Why did Rugby Africa wish to be part of the experience ?
This tournament offered the possibility to small countries to practice more, to test young players and to perpetuate rugby thanks to international matches. It is also necessary to say that Africa is particularly well represented within this Federation because the vice-presidents are no other than Tahar Boujouala, the Moroccan Royal Federation of Rugby’s chairman and Aref Belkhiria the Tunisian Federation of Rugby’s chairman.
– Who can benefit from this tournament ?
The youngest ! The key point of this competition is to welcome the youngest players to scout our stars of tomorrow. The team of Morocco, which this year participated with two teams because of Libya’s withdrawal, fielded 20 local out of 24 players. Tunisia had a team made of 100 % local players as well as Algeria which participated in their very first 7s tournament.
– What is the future of the Arabic Federation of Rugby ?
The union wishes to perpetuate this tournament of 7s rugby which will take place from now on once a year in a different country every time. This year, the council also made the decision to integrate a women’s annual competition of 7s rugby. This event will be particularly important as it will be a big leap forward for women’ s rugby in the region. For now, World Rugby doesn’t recognise this union but the future will be brighter.
MOROCCO (1) 46 – 0 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
TUNISIA 47 – 0 LEBANON
MOROCCO (1) 45 – 0 ALGERIA
TUNISIA 12 – 5 MOROCCO (2*)
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 34 – 14 ALGERIA
LEBANON 31 – 0 MOROCCO (2)
Ranking 5th/6th : ALGERIA 0 – 33 LEBANON
Ranking 2nd/3rd : TUNISIA 7 – 17 MOROCCO (2)
Ranking 1st/4th : MOROCCO (1) 41 – 0 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Ranking 5th/6th : ALGERIA 19 – 31 LEBANON
MOROCCO (2) 34 – 0 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Final : MOROCCO (1) 29 – 14 TUNISIA
* Morocco’s 2nd team participated out of the ranking
- United Arab Emirates