Three nations on debut, and one returning to the international fold, will contest the second RLIF Middle East Africa Championship in October 2019. The event, staged over four days, will be hosted at the Teslim Balogum Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria, with the hosts facing fellow newcomers Ghana, and Cameroon – also making their bow – coming up against Morocco, who last played a representative fixture in the first tournament eight years ago.
The matches will be played on 2nd October with the respective winners and losers contesting the final and ranking play-off games on 6th in a second double-header.
“The MEA Championship could be one of the most significant moments in the history of international rugby league,” said Adi Adebisi, general manager of the Nigerian Rugby League Association, who have recently established four clubs for their competition which is due to begin in May.
“The staging of such a tournament here, the largest economy in Africa is a massive opportunity for both Nigeria and the sport.”
Morocco’s re-emergence under a new board coincides with four clubs currently playing in their domestic competition – Nador Arkmane (Nador), Black Eagles (Casablanca), Marocaine Assalam (Guelmim) and South Lions (Bouzakarne) – which kicked off in January 2019.
President of the Moroccan Federation, Yassmina Abdesselem, commented: “We are very much looking forward to taking part. The players are excited to work through to selection for our proud national team.”
Ghana and Cameroon are building up to their initial Test matches.
“We are looking forward to the Championship and especially proud and excited to compete in an all-African tournament first up,” noted Kareem Captain, a member of the Ghana Rugby League board of trustees.
CRL XIII general manager Carol Manga added:
“Rugby League is a community-based sport and the tournament will bring people together and enrich their lives. We in the Cameroon want to show off how entertaining this sport can be.”
Rugby League European Federation MEA regional manager, Remond Safi, who has been the architect of the championship commented:
“This will provide a pathway for the four participants to obtain affiliate membership, potentially by the end of the year.
“Playing official international matches is a part of the criteria and the profile gained will also encourage other nations to develop the sport in new areas of the continent.”