Alongside the Asia Rugby Championship Division III West competition, a women’s sevens tournament also took place this week.
Hosted by Lebanon, two Lebanese teams competed with both Qatar and Syria on Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of the ARC Div III W final between Lebanon and Iran.
All three sides are making their international sevens debuts, becoming the 134th, 135th and 136th countries to play at this level.
The captain of the Syrian side spoke to Asia Rugby about her journey into the sport, and the competition itself in Lebanon.
“I was a basketball player and gymnast I got introduced to rugby via the coach in Suwaida,” said Noura Abu Fadel.
“I immediately fell in Love with rugby and was excited to see the opportunities it offered.
“Rugby has given me the opportunity to break down barriers and stereotypes and I hope I can be an inspiration for others once we go back.”
Despite drawing their opening match 5-5 with Lebanon Green, Syria lost their other two matches 17-7 to Qatar and 22-0 to Lebanon Red.
On day two they lost their semi-final but went on to win the Plate with a 17-2 win over Lebanon Green. Qatar were the eventual winners of the tournament beating Lebanon Red in the final.
“It is an honour to represent my country,” added Abu Fadel.
“The girls were very nervous as this is the first time they are playing in any tournament, but as they progressed they felt more confident.
“We are all proud of how we played and now feel we can only go up. It has been wonderful for the girls to take part in this tournament.”
At just 20-years-old Basel Al Halabi is coaching the Syrian women’s sevens team and was impressed with what he/she saw.
“This is the first time I am coaching a women’s team and I am very impressed,” said Al Halabi.
“I was surprised by the girls, they have a fighting sprit and have not given up and in fact they are playing better than the men.
“We are spreading rugby via Get into Rugby in Syria. Things are not very easy and we face a lot of challenges but we hope we are setting up something for the future.”