Israel and the United Arab Emirates’ first meeting on in a field sports arena will be a rugby union match, it has been revealed.

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The two teams trained this week in the UAE and will contest a friendly game tomorrow at Rugby Park in Dubai Sports City, a historic day for rugby and the sporting world.

The two nations were part of a landmark peace deal in 2020. On August 13, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States signed a joint statement, normalising relations between the countries. Now they will contest a rugby match, the first of its kind, this Friday (March 19th).

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The Israeli team, including their Sevens players, flew out to the UAE on Monday ahead of their joint training sessions.

“This collaboration is a fantastic example of what sports can do,” Israel’s head coach, South African-born Kevin Musikanth, told The Jerusalem Post. “It can bring people together, it doesn’t know any barriers… There was no hesitation for working together.”

“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. With the country’s support we should be able to progress.”

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Israel are set to compete against Romania, Ukraine, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Sweden, Luxemburg, Denmark, Latvia, Hungary and Turkey in the upcoming 2021 European Rugby Championship Cup.

UPDATE 13.11 19-3-2-21: First line: Their first meeting in a field sports’ contest as opposed to any sporting contest. 

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