The Kurdistan and Iraqi rugby teams battled it out in Erbil's Franso Hariri football stadium on Saturday, with the home side taking the victory, 22-5.
The Kurdish teams dressed in red and black while Iraq was in blue.The game was the “first official match” in Iraq, according to the Iraq Rugby Association. Iraqis, Kurds, and foreigners were on the pitch for the game “in a beautiful atmosphere,” the association said. Devoted rugby fans are trying to build a following for the sport in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region where football reigns supreme. Saturday’s friendly coincided with the first annual Kurdistan Sports Day.
The occasion is yet to be officially recognized by the regional parliament, but sports enthusiasts are hopeful it will take off. Jalal Parishan, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lawmaker and deputy head of the parliament’s Sports and Youth Committee, said he and his colleagues will throw their weight behind the initiative to officially recognize April 20 as Kurdistan Sports Day.In addition to the rugby, the day also brought Iraq’s Kurdish and Arab football legends onto the field.
A game between players from their local clubs and national teams ended in a 2-2 draw. Photos: Mohammed Shwani/Rudaw