Israeli national rugby team to compete against UAE in first ever match

"This collaboration is a fantastic example of what sports can do," Kevin Musikanth, technical director of Israel Rugby, told The Jerusalem Post.

ISRAEL RUGBY team member Vitali Primak sports his Provacan jersey during a recent competition (photo credit: YARIV VEINBERG/COURTESY)
ISRAEL RUGBY team member Vitali Primak sports his Provacan jersey during a recent competition
(photo credit: YARIV VEINBERG/COURTESY)
The warming relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have seen many historical collaborations in a variety of fields ever since the Abraham Accords were signed in August last year.
Now, rugby is joining the list of exciting new collaborations between Israelis and Emiratis - creating new opportunities for rugby fans in both countries.
Israel's national Olympic rugby team departed Ben-Gurion Airport Monday night toward Dubai for a joint training camp with the UAE's national rugby team ahead of the European Rugby Championship Cup, starting June 19.

On March 19, the teams will meet at Dubai's Rugby Park in the city's Sports City, for the first ever friendly match between Israeli and Emirati national teams in any sport.
Unfortunately, spectators will have to watch the unforgettable event from their homes, as they will not be allowed in the arena due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Israel's national rugby team is managed by Rugby Israel, the rugby union of Israel. It was founded in 1971, and while rugby is not considered a popular sport in Israel, the team hopes to change that.
Training intensified in 2016, when rugby was recognized as an Olympic sport, and the coronavirus pandemic has not hindered the team's efforts. According to a Rugby Israel statement, the team continued to train during the pandemic and is in top shape toward its upcoming match in Dubai.
The unexpected collaboration between Israel and Dubai ahead of the upcoming European Rugby Championship Cup was made possible thanks to an agreement signed between Apollo Perelini, technical director of the UAE rugby team and Kevin Musikanth, technical director of Israel Rugby.
"This collaboration is a fantastic example of what sports can do," Musikanth told The Jerusalem Post. "It can bring people together, it doesn't know any barriers," he added, explaining how the collaborative process was made possible. "There was no hesitation for working together."
According to Musikanth, rugby has the power to bring people together from different cultural groups. "Rugby is a game born around discipline and comradery - the ability to work together for something greater than yourself," he says, adding that he hopes the upcoming events will change the way Israelis view rugby.
"Our team has a high level of natural abilities...hopefully, with this historic event, the public will be able to identify the fact that we have a talented team with high aspirations," Musikanth added, noting that the team hopes to make it to the World Cup one day. "With the country's support we should be able to progress."
Israel's national team ranks 60th in the world and 17th in Europe.
During the 2021 European Rugby Championship Cup, Israel will compete with Romania, Ukraine, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Sweden, Luxemburg, Denmark, Latvia, Hungary and Turkey.