Nigeria has been chosen to host the second Middle East Africa Rugby League Championship, which will take place over a week in October and is likely to comprise of two groups and a final, all at a single venue.
It will be the second MEA Championship to be played in Africa, the first in 2015 as part of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers, when Lebanon travelled to and defeated South Africa over two matches.
“I’m certain the expanded competition will be a success in Nigeria and would like the Nigerian people to get behind us and show how great the country and Africa can be for the sport,” said former professional Ade Adebisi, vice chairman and general manager of the Nigeria Rugby League Association. “This tournament will be a fantastic avenue to showcase the raw talent in Africa and the Middle East and what rugby league has to offer outside of traditional boundaries.”
It is also planned to host a regional educational event for coaches and match officials around the Championship.
The decision to hold the tournament in Nigeria has been endorsed by Rugby Football League Hall of Famer Martin Offiah. “Of Nigerian heritage, I am always delighted when I see fellow countrymen express their athletic prowess. It makes me very proud that my parents came from a small village in the state of Onitsha and now a statue of their son sits outside Wembley Stadium in London thanks to this great sport. It is my honour to support the NRLA on their journey into the world of international rugby league.”
Participating nations will be announced in March.