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2008-06-30

Rugby makes inroads into Algeria

By Lyes Aflou for Magharebia in Algiers – 30/06/08

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With its three Rugby clubs – Rugby Club d’Alger, Stade Oranais and Mouloudia M’sila – Algeria is only two short of the number needed to establish a national federation.

Most of Algeria's rugby professionals, including both players and coaches, live in Europe. Mourad Kellal, who coaches the national team, is based in France's Vaucluse region.

Sofiane Benhassen, who also lays claim to the title of Algeria's national rugby selector, has visited a number of newspaper offices recently to promote his plan to give the oval ball a lasting home in Algeria.

"Algeria has 60 players playing in Europe, particularly in France and England, but we do not have the right to take part in international competitions," he told El Watan earlier this month.

Referring to a recent match in Tunisia which resulted in an 8-7 victory for the Greens, Benhassen added, "We’ve done our country proud in several tournaments and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that we're among the top 30 countries in the world and among the best four on the continent."

The return match, which should have been played in Oran several few weeks ago, was cancelled at the last minute due to unrest following football club Mouloudia d’Oran's relegation to Division II.

Another name on the list of promoters excited about rugby in Algiera is Nassim Mohamedatni, who has set up a blog devoted entirely to the game. Describing himself as a member of the steering committee for the creation of an Algerian rugby federation, and vice-chairman of the Rugby Club d’Alger, Mohamedatni says on his web site that contacts have been forged with the Algerian sporting authorities, the African rugby federation and the Arab Rugby Federation.

These contacts have seemingly stepped up the priority of creating an Algerian championship. Such a move would open the door for Algeria to participate in the Maghreb Super Cup, scheduled for mid-December in Morocco. Dubai is also expected to organise the first Arab championship before the end of the year.

Mohamedatni's blog discusses the need to train Algerian players in the sport.

"Our aim is to develop rugby in Algeria through universities, training schools and a quality Algerian championship," he wrote, commenting that there are 80 Algerian players who could be included in a national side, most of whom play in the French championship.

A source at Algeria's Ministry of Youth and Sports who asked to remain anonymous has said, however, that the fact that professionals are playing abroad is not enough to set up a federation and that a local championship must first be introduced.

Until a detailed plan emerges, most Algerians are in the dark about the sport's role in the country.

"Rugby in Algeria?" remarked 20-year-old Karim Azzoug. "This is the first time I’ve heard it mentioned, but it would be worth giving it a go."

"Any additional activity for our young people is always worthwhile," added high school teacher Rabah Moussi.

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    azize 2010-12-25

    Beware of Morad Kellal. This person is all talk. This man only acts for his own benefit. He wants to be on the front page. His work for the association Operation Nez Rouge France was not right. What he did was a shame to our country. Rugby is sure to progress with such a crook and impostor.

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    BAKLOUCH 2010-11-5

    First of all, hello to all the Algerians in France and Algeria. I am happy to hear that rugby is in the process of developing in our country. I am a former first-division, 13-a-side rugby coach in France. I specialize in defence.

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    Kellal 2009-7-20

    The entire team at the Algerian Rugby Players' Association an at Rugby Club d'Alger wishes you a Happy New Year for 2008! My name is Morad Kellal. I a a professional rugby coach in Bouches-du-Rhône. My love for rugby and both my citizenships, Algerian and French, has led me to create the Algerian Rugby Federation. I have the opportunity of presenting my project to the Minister of Youth and Sport in Algeria. He has shown himself to be extremely interested in this and has charged me with contacting people in France who would offer their support to this project and with training several high-quality players with Algerian citizenship. In this light, I have permitted myself to contact you to find out if you would be interested in offering your support, which may be of any type that is most convenient for you, to this project. Naturally, I am at your disposal for any information you may desire. -Morad Kellal, appointed Director of Rugby Initiation in Algeria under the Minister of Youth and Sport, President of the Algerian Rugby Players' Association.

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    ahmed 2009-6-22

    I think that rugby will have its moment of glory here because everyone is motivated to give their all. Once the championship begins in 2010 things will be clearer. It is just a question of will.

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    azwaw 2008-12-29

    Hello everyone- It is important that you know that the following clubs are also in existence: Béjaïa, Biskra, Setif, Tizi-Ouzou, Ain M’lila and Bouzeguene. The lack only in co-operation, working together and the various actors who work to promote rugby in Algerian territory so as to set up a championship and create a federations. –Azwaw

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    Abdelkader 2008-12-21

    Hi- I have been a rugby player for four years now. I play in France in Club SNR. I am 20 years old. I would like to join Oran’s club, but I do not know how.

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    Dziri58 2008-7-1

    Rugby is not a new sport to Algeria. When i was at primary school in the late sixties, three of my teachers use to play Rugby, and there was quite a few clubs playing this sport including USM Algiers. I remember watching a few games in " La Prise D'eau" a El Harrach which had a beautiful Rugby pitch with natural grass.

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    Abdou 2008-7-1

    Kada, I'm sorry to tell you but the only thing backwards here is you lame comment. If you judge a whole country based on a single sport, then thats just ridiculous, the standard should be scientific research and economic growth for example, not rugby!!! you might what to consider that most algerians might not like rugby and prefer football.

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    Jugurta 2008-6-30

    Personally, I am sure that if Algeria put its mind to it, it would raise the roof. There is no corruption here like there is in football. Moreover, this goes well with the character of Algerians and we have a large reserve of players.

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    Kada 2008-6-30

    From 1968 to 1971 I was at Ruisseau High School and I had the great pleasure of attending a rugby match on the coast of El Harrach. 40 years later, we now read “Rugby may soon be a new club sport in Algeria!” Backwards! What a country!

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