(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s national rugby team’s recent rise in the world standings this Saturday, October 30 when the squad faces off against Hungary at Wingate Stadium at 1:30 p.m.
A few years ago the national team managed to keep itself from being relegated to the lowest European division. In doing so it avoided acquiring the dubious honor of being the lowest ranked team in the International Rugby Board.
Only three years ago, Israel was losing to the likes of Finland and Luxembourg – currently the two lowest-ranked teams in the IRB’s world rankings.
Since then, however, there has been an upward thrust in Israeli rugby.
New youth teams have been established all over the country. IRB coaching courses are routinely fully attended. The Israeli Women 7’s and Men 7’s teams are doing very well in the European championships and they seriously aim for the preliminaries for of the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
Above all, 12 successive wins in Europe has brought the men’s national team to its current ranking of 74th in the world – 20 places higher than it was only two years ago.
This may not appear to be such an achievement, but the rise of 20 places in a two-year span has been bettered only by Lithuania, currently ranked 39th.
A win against Hungary is crucial for Israel’s continued advancement in Europe. The Hungarians, seven spots higher than Israel at 67, recently beat 90th-ranked Austria 22-16.
The president of the Israeli Rugby Union, Menachem Ben Menachem, sees a
direct result of the hard work of both players and coaches.
“We have a young and promising team. I truly believe that we can and
will beat Hungary despite the fact that the Hungarians are in top
shape,” he said. “Our coaches have been given much support. They work
with quiet dedication that is not typical of sport in Israel.
“This coming Saturday we will take another convincing step forward in
our aim of bettering our rankings. I invite all our supporters to be
with us at this important time.”