Italy beat Pakistan in first ever rugby league international fixture

Published November 19, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Italian players struggle for the ball during their rugby match at Jinnah Stadium on Saturday.
—White Star/Tanveer Shahzad
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Italian players struggle for the ball during their rugby match at Jinnah Stadium on Saturday. —White Star/Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hosted its first ever international rugby league match here on Saturday when the national rugby league teams of Italy and Pakistan met here at the Jinnah Stadium Sports Complex.

And though Italy won the match 32-20, it was the enthusiasm from people and the arrangements made for the match that was worth noticing and deserved appreciation. A portion of the stadium’s brightly coloured seating was already filling up by 12:30pm with schoolchildren who chanted Pakistan Zindabad while the teams went through drills before the game.

The match commenced at 1:00pm and the enthusiasm for the match was palpable, even if not everyone was clear on the technicalities.

The match began with a try from Italy, which is the rugby term for a way to score points in matches. A try is worth four points, while a try and a successful conversion are worth six.

The announcer for the match was careful to explain such terms while also cheering for the Pakistani side as well as repeatedly asking people to vacate the field during gameplay.

Italy’s initial try was quickly followed by one from Pakistan. In one memorable instance, the scoreboard changed to show both sides as having scored 22 points, until the announcer rectified it to put it at 22-20 for Italy.

The second half of the 80-minute match, however, was dominated by Italy, who scored one try and one converted try to bring their total to 32.

It was indeed a festive occasion as the Italian and Pakistani players danced to drumbeat on the sidelines of the field.Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, who was the chief guest, described the occasion as an effort to revive international sporting events in the country. She credited the government for bringing peace and covincing the international teams to play in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2017

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