LAU rugby team makes history (Update)
The team became the first in Lebanon to play a perfect season of the national rugby league championship after beating AUB on May 8 at the final.
LAU’s rugby team took home a trophy Saturday night after beating the American University of Beirut in the final game of the national championship. The win makes LAU the first team in Lebanon’s history to play a perfect season by winning every one of the 13 games.
“We feel absolutely thrilled,” says Sami Garabedian, director of the Athletics at LAU Beirut. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet for some of the players,” he adds. “I think someone needs to pinch them.”
The Immortals, as the team has been nicknamed, was down 11–10 at half time.
“It was 2009 revisited,” Garabedian says, referring to last year’s season when the team was on its way to completing a perfect season before stumbling during the final game.
“I went into the locker room during half time and they were in a completely different world,” Garabedian says. “I told them, ‘you guys are 40 minutes away from making history, so you better jump on the opportunity and not let it slip away.’”
The team redeemed itself during the second half achieving a final score of 45–10.
“During the first half, the AUB team was really playing as if it was the one that was undefeated for 12 regular-season games,” Garabedian says. “We made quite a few mistakes … and played more defensively than we had all season long, but when the second-half whistle blew, the guys were in a completely different zone.”
The players and coach celebrate the victory, with Dr. Tarek Na’was (top, 5th from left), Dean of Students in Beirut, and Sami Garabedian (top, 8th from left), Director of Athletics in Beirut.
Posted April 12, 2010—
LAU’s record-breaking rugby team, nicknamed The Immortals, is walking into the final game of the national championship’s this season undefeated, as it prepares to take on the American University of Beirut on Saturday, May 8 in Bhamdoun. If the team wins, it will break its own record of winning six finals since it began competing in 2003.
The team is determined to redeem its frustrating loss at last year’s final game of the national championship — called Bank of Beirut Rugby League Championship — against Jounieh RLFC when LAU was set to play a perfect season before a last-minute penalty was called which allowed its competitors to score the game’s winning goal.
“We are at the same stage we were last year before the final,” says Sami Garabedian, director of Athletics at LAU Beirut, explaining that the team could make history on Saturday as the first team to play a perfect season by winning all 13 games. Last year, the team achieved a national record of winning 12 games.
The team used to compete in two finals each year until the 2005–2006 season when the system was changed so that they just play one.
“The players have developed really well. They are the most structured and schooled team in the league,” says Remond Safi, who has been coaching the team for the past three years.
The team is comprised of students and alumni. Some of the players are also members of the country’s two national rugby teams (Liban Espoir and Cedars).
LAU has competed against six other teams this season: AUB, USJ, Balamand, Wolves RLFC, AUST Lions, and Jounieh RLFC.
Garabedian notes that LAU was not always renowned for its rugby team. “We were the lousiest team in the league when we first started playing in 2003. We barely won a game,” he says. “But we kept on trying.”
The final game is set for 5:00 p.m. on May 8. Those interested in cheering on The Immortals are invited to climb on board their bus departing from LAU Beirut’s Lower Gate at 3:00 p.m.