Since Egypt cancelled this month’s African rugby tournament over security concerns, Libyan rugby authorities have been anxious to step in and stage the tournament themselves in Tripoli and Benghazi. The only problem is that in Tripoli, there is no regular playing field.
Tarek Benrewin, who is general secretary of both the Libyan and Tripoli rugby committees told the Libya Herald this evening that if worse came to worst, pitches would be rented for the tournament, which will host teams from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, which like Libya, are relative newcomers to the game. Libya’s bid the take on the international tournament is still being considered by the African Rugby Confederation.
However Benrewin said that the real focus was on building the sport in Libya. Currently this was being done by encouraging private schools in both Tripoli and Benghazi to teach the sport and by staging demonstration games at universities. Earlier this year a display match was playing on a temporary pitch at Tripoli university. One rugby fan who watched the game recalled: “There was a good crowd of students there, including some girls. Maybe it was because of their presence that when players took a nasty fall, most didn’t stay on the ground very long, but got up quickly, to demonstrate that it had not really hurt”.
But a permanent home for Libyan rugby in the capital remains elusive. When a scratch Libyan 15 scored a convincing 43-17 victory over a British Royal Navy side from the survey ship HMS Echo this July, the game was played on a rented football pitch at Tripoli Sports City. For want of proper goal posts, plastic plumbing pipes had been pressed into use. Although the British navy has since delivered a proper set of rugby posts, there is currently nowhere to erect them.
This year the start of the season is being delayed because not all the teams from Tripoli Benghazi, Zawia and Misrata have yet re-registered, meaning no fixture list can be drawn up.
Benrewin said that a meeting in a fortnight ought to iron out the problem and that the season would begin before the new year. Last year the finals of the Libyan rugby league were played in April.