MENA Press Release – Saudis Set for Title Defence

Published: Mar 29, 2011
Via Phil Caplan at RLEF

JEDDAH: The reigning MENA Under 16 rugby league champions are off to Lebanon this week to defend their title. The team, which is one third Saudi, consists of pupils from Jeddah Prep and Grammar School, British International School in Jeddah and the American School in Jeddah, will face a determined challenge from their opponents.

In their final warm-up game against fellow pupils supported by team coaches, the travelling team looked as if they were fully capable of rising to the MENA challenge as they ran in seven tries to four during the match. Their big challenges come on March 31 against Palestine and April 2 against Lebanon.

“Unfortunately an injury has prevented one player, Saeed Saeed from Dar Al Fikr, from travelling or he would have been our first Saudi school representative,” said head coach David Kinkead.
Last year the Saudi Select team made history by gaining not only their first international victory but shocking the hosts, a very strong Lebanon side. The Saudi youngsters many much younger than their opponents performed spectacularly to set a benchmark that will be difficult for this year’s side to beat.

Co-captains Hasan Zakzouk and Rackan Al Moukhtar were both members of last year’s championship team and are well aware of the challenge in front of them.
“We know we shocked a lot of people last year and this year the other teams will be out for revenge” said Zakzouk. Al Moukhtar was not intimdated and said; “Our game is built on hard running and strong tackling and this year we will be even tougher to beat.”

The title-holding Saudi squad has drawn heavily from the undefeated BISJ team that won the local schools competition. They established their dominance by conceding only one try whilst posting a massive 120 points in 3 games. With the addition of quality strike players from the other schools the squad has really come together under the supervision of coaches David Kinkead, David Martin, Wayne Stewart and Chris Stander.

Kinkead is confident ahead of the MENA Championship “The squad has gelled nicely and it’s great to see the hard work on the training pitch start to come out on the playing field. The side has a number of quality players hoping to catch the eye of the scouts at the tournament and the boys are particularly excited at the opportunity to showcase the talent available in the Kingdom.”

Whatever the result of the MENA Championship two things are certain the defending champions will not relinquish that trophy without a fight and that there is real quality rugby league being played in Saudi Arabia.

Team: L. McRaith, H. Nasser, M. van Gruenen (American International School of Jeddah), T. Abdullah, F.Abdulwahab, S. Abualnasr, R. Al Moukhtar (c), S. Balaa, A. El Obeid, Z. Potgieter, Y. Safadi,  H. Sharbatly, H. Zakzouk (c) (British International School of Jeddah), S. Saeed (Dar Al Fikr School), D. Herselman, W. Mufti, O. Rathore (Jeddah Prep and Grammar School)


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