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Two former Quins and a Saint set for Tel Aviv Heat debuts in Georgia

By Ian Cameron
Renaldo Bothma of Harlequins during the Aviva Premiership match between Harlequins and Saracens at Twickenham Stoop on December 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

Two former Harlequins players and an ex-Northampton Saint have been named in the starting line-up for Tel Aviv Heat in their Rugby Europe Super Cup match with Black Lion.

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The Israeli side take on the Georgian side for the first time in Tbilisi today as part of the inaugural season of the new international club competition that has been set up by Rugby Europe.

The Heat can boast Gabriel Ibitoye and Renaldo Bothma, both formerly of Harlequins, and former Northampton Saints, Edinburgh and London Irish scrum-half Nic Groom.

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In July last year, Ibitoye left Harlequins to join Agen in the Top 14 on a two-year deal. However, he was granted mutual release from the club and he signed for Montpellier as a medical joker for the rest of the 2020-21 season. He is now a free agent on a short term contract with Tel Aviv, alongside Groom and Namibian No8 Bothma, as well as a group of Fijian players who only arrived at the start of this week.

South African Kevin Musikanth, head coach of the Israel rugby union team, is in charge of Tel Aviv.

“I am coach, travel agent, recruiter while also sorting out visas and the Fijian guys flew into Georgia this week. We have 29 guys in our squad and eight are home grown players from Israel. Rugby needs competitions like this.

“Our budget is made up by backers and the average age of the squad is 26 and they are on short-term contracts and we want to see how the competitions evolves. We only contracted our first player in the middle of July and the tournament is starting a month late because of COVID reasons.”

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The new annual club competition will see a mix of professional club and franchise teams battling it out for the Super Cup title through an exciting competition format. For the first edition, the Super Cup will feature 8 leading teams dispatched in two conferences for the initial round-robin stage.

The match kicks off at 2pm UK time and can be streamed at https://www.rugbyeurope.eu/rugby-europe-tv/

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