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Ireland Coach Explains 'Animosity' Towards Lebanon Ahead Of Crunch Rugby League World Cup Clash

Ireland Coach Explains 'Animosity' Towards Lebanon Ahead Of Crunch Rugby League World Cup Clash
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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After the exploits of the Irish cricketers yesterday, it is refreshing to see that yet another team from this country is performing well on the global stage in what would be considered a minority sport on this island.

Ireland opened their Rugby League World Cup campaign in an impressive fashion last weekend, hammering Jamaica on a scoreline of 48-2 in Leeds. It was quite the performance, one which set them up nicely for the remainder of the group stages.

One more victory should be enough to book their place in the quarter-finals, and considering their final pool game will come against world no.1 side New Zealand, the matchup against Lebanon tomorrow afternoon provides the best opportunity to get it.

While Lebanon may not be a name well-known in rugby union, they do have a decent track record in the 13-man game. They sit one spot behind Ireland in the world rankings in 13th place, with former Leinster and Australia coach Michael Cheika at the helm. Cheika's parents hail from the country and he has been brought in to over see the development of the sport in both codes.

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Ireland rugby league coach explains rivalry with Lebanon

Lebanon may not be a country that has a natural rivalry with Ireland, but there is plenty of history between the two nations in rugby league.

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They have had plenty of heated clashes down through the years, most notably in the World Cup qualifier back in 2007. Featuring plenty of high tackles and controversial moments, that contest finished in a 16-16 draw which was enough to allow Ireland to qualify for the competition in Australia the following year.

Current Ireland head coach Ged Corcoran played in that game, and speaking to PA, he explained that 'animosity' that is still present between the two teams.

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There's a lot of animosity between us and Lebanon, even way back to when I played in 2007 in our qualifier when we pipped them at Dewsbury.

There was a lot of bad blood before the game, a lot of bad blood in the game and then obviously it spilled over after the game.

They're desperate, it's their Grand Final. They competed with New Zealand but they're desperate to get to the quarters.

A win for Ireland in this fixture will be enough to book a place in the quarter-finals, presuming New Zealand defeat Jamaica in the other fixture in the group.

The Irish have not managed to reach the knockout stages in either of their last two World Cup appearances, meaning to do so on this occasion would be a major step forward.

The game kicks off at 2:30pm tomorrow afternoon and will be broadcast live on the BBC.

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SEE ALSO: Rory Best Knows Ireland Will Not Fear South Africa

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