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Sports

Algeria play first rugby international on home soil against Tunisia

media Algeria's players are targeting participation in the 2019 rugby World Cup. Richie McCaw skippered New Zealand to the 2015 title. Reuters/Toby Melville

Algeria wil play its first international rugby match on home soil on Friday. The match against Tunisia will take place at the Stade Zabana in Oran and comes a month after the Algerian rugby federation was officially established.

 

"This game against Tunisia will allow us to launch Algerian rugby in the country," said Aib Azzouz, manager of the Algeria team. "It will help people get to know the game."

Rugby arrived in Algeria when the country was colonised by France. It also effectively left when France withdrew from the land following the bitter war of independence.

Before the French retreat, rugby was played in Guelma, Oran, Annaba as well as in the capital Algiers. Clubs such as Ridja, ES Guelma and Stade Oranais emerged as the leading lights providing players who pursued their careers abroad, mainly in France.

The heirs of those pioneers are at heart of the drive to rebuild the game, says Azzouz. But he says the rugby sons now playing in Australia, France, New Zealand, Romania and England, will be bolstered by a couple of players plying their trade in Algeria.

"It's a historic game for us," added Azzouz. "We've been working for this moment for nine years. We've played in Tunisia, Malaysia, Egypt, Kazakhstan and France and at home we've been creating clubs which are well run and which can train players, coaches and referees. The match is a big opportunity for us."

Algeria team coaches are targeting the 2019 rugby World Cup as their first major international tournament.

 

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