The Tel Aviv Amazons on Friday were named national women’s 7 rugby champions, rounding out an exceptional season. The win at the Wingate Institute marks the team’s 13th national championship; they have only lost once - last year - to their rivals, the Raanana Raptors. Despite losing the last match of the day on Friday, the Amazons managed to cinch the national championship, having already won three of the five winter league tournaments. They will compete in a stand-alone cup tournament on March 8th, also at Wingate.Friday’s games included outstanding plays from players Jessica Tulchin, who scored four tries, and Marina Arditi, who scored three. Tulchin, who is originally from Belgium, and Arditi, who hails from Argentina, are two of the team’s many international players. The team also includes athletes from the US, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, and Germany, as well as Israel. The Amazons are coached by Miki Weizmann, a former player for the both the Tel Aviv team and for the national team, which she also coaches. Weizmann said she was “very proud of the group’s achievements” and noted their improvement over the last year, saying that the girls have “built a strong team that plays quality rugby.”The championship win, she said, “comes to players who have persisted in their teamwork while also improving their individual skills.” Captain Daria Velikovsky, a 10-year rugby veteran and member of the Amazons for the last six years, said that over the last year, the level of play in the league has gone up markedly. “Tel Aviv took this season very seriously, “ she said, “and at the same time had a very positive mindset, putting emphasis on team work and still enjoying the game.” She added that she was “very proud” to be captain, “not only for the achievements” of the group, “but for every teammate I play with.” Aside from celebrating their win, the players stressed the feelings of camaraderie that come with team sports. “We’re proud to say that rugby is a sport of respect,” one added, receiving unanimous agreement from her teammates. While rugby is still a relatively unknown sport in Israel, it has grown in recent years. In addition to Tel Aviv and Raanana, there are teams based in Rehovot, Haifa, and Jerusalem, as well as one based in the Galilee. Earlier this year, several players, including one Tel Aviv alum, helped found a league for female players under 17 to encourage and engage them in the sport, as well as prepare them for the women’s league.