a different side of Israel

Israeli rugby side outlasts Slovenia in World Cup prelim

Israel Vs Slovania RugbyIt’s not like American football, and it’s not nearly as popular as “kadur regel” or European football (i.e. soccer to Americans), but the manly sport of rugby is on the map in Israel and gaining in popularity. Saturday’s game at the Wingate Institute outside Netanya pitted Israel’s national team against a visiting team from Slovenia. Many people don’t even know where that country is, also we will say that it is part of the former Federation of Yugoslavia and is sandwiched between Austria and Croatia (another former part of Marshall Tito’s Slavic empire).

But despite not being a front-running sport the 1,000 or so fans who did show up were treated to a whale of a game, while they munched South African style boerwere sausages, washed down by draft beer, courtesy of Tel Aviv’s Dancing Camel brewery. The TV cable sports channel 5+ had their crew there too, as the game was filmed live on cable TV.

The small, heavily Israeli audience (it appears only the Slovenian team pitched up) was not without lack of spirit however as horns, drums, and good sets of lungs made up for the sparse attendance. Of course as on fan who hails from Ireland put it: “I guess you can’t compare it to some games in Ireland or the UK when as many as 80,000 pitch up for a match”.

The Israeli team got off to a slow start; and before they knew it, were behind Slovenia 6 – nil after the Slovenics got two 3 point penalty kick conversions in a row. But the Israeli side wasn’t to be outdone as they soon managed to tie it up 6 – 6. The game then became a see-saw as both Israel and Slovenia each got 5 point tries (the equivalent of a touchdown in American sports language) with some 3 pointers thrown in between. At the end of the game, which somehow managed to go about 7 minutes over allotted time, the score ended up with Israel on top 26 – 19, and will now be able to go on to the next qualifying round. According to some rugby experts in the crowd, the Israeli side will need to polish up their game, if they expect to go very far in their next qualifying rounds.

That were so many young sports enthusiasts, including members of an Israeli female rugby team in their blue jerseys, and a boy’s youth team there as well, the sport seems to have a future in a country where “round ball football” still is king (there were no big write-ups in the papers on the game).

1 Comment

  1. Well done Isreal Rugby. I am a Crazy English Rugby fan. I follow the Premiership Team Saracens, funny name for an English team! I spent 12 very happy months in Isreal on Kibutzim including Ha Ogen near Natanya, when I was a young woman. Good Luck with future World Cup Qualifying Games! Anne Barrie.

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