Rugby union in Morocco
|Rugby union in Morocco|
|Governing body||Royal Moroccan Rugby Federation|
|Registered players||6,233 |
Rugby came to Morocco in the early 20th century, mainly by the French who occupied the country. As a result, Moroccan rugby was tied to the fortunes of France during the two world wars, with many Moroccan players going away to fight. Like many other Maghrebi nations, Moroccan rugby tended to look to Europe for inspiration, rather than to the rest of Africa.
The game became more firmly established in the 1950s, partly through the efforts of Mohammed Benjaloun, who would become president of the Moroccan Olympic Committee.
The link with France has proven to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, many successful Moroccan players go on to play in the French Leagues, on the other, some Moroccans who should be playing for Morocco, have ended up playing for France, or refusing Moroccan caps in case they are ineligible for this. An example of this is, Abdelatif Benazzi, a forward who played for the French club of Agen and won his first cap for France in 1990, playing 77 games after that. Benazzi was supposed to play for Morocco, and arguably his absence cost them promotion to the next round of 1995 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, and allowed the Ivory Coast to get through.
For a while, Morocco originally came under European rugby auspices, but is now integrated into the African structure.
Morocco is a founder member of the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), which was launched officially in January 1986, in Tunis, Tunisia. Rugby officials from Tunisia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Kenya, the Seychelles and Madagascar also attended.
Notable Moroccan players include:
- Abdelatif Benazzi
- Said Boucha
- Abdellatif Boutaty
- Rachid Karmouchi
- Djalil Narjissi
- Christian Carrere, captain of France
Morocco traditionally sees neighbours Spain as their rivals. Morocco played its first international in 1931 against them. After playing several games, they would not play another international until 1967, when they joined the European Nations Cup and FIRA. Morocco made the first division in 1983 but was beaten easily by France and Romania. After falling down the rankings, Morocco left the European series and joined the African Cup competition and won it in 2003 and 2005.
- Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)
- http://wesclark.com/rrr/islamic_rugby.html "Islam and Rugby" on the Rugby Readers review retrieved 2nd July, 2009
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p71
- http://carugby.com/history/ History of the CAR, retrieved 24th June, 2009
- IRB Morocco page
- [ Official union page]
- CAR page
- CAR Morocco page
- "Islam and Rugby" on the Rugby Readers review
- (French) Archives du Rugby: Maroc