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Rugby history to be made as Israel and UAE to play first game

By Ian Cameron
Two players embrace during their joint training session in the UAE. Credit: Israeli Rugby Union

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


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.”


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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