Women's series planned after success of UAE-Israel men's rugby event

The UAE and Israel players shake hands after their match in Dubai on Friday. (Photo by Shihab)
The UAE and Israel players shake hands after their match in Dubai on Friday. (Photo by Shihab)

Dubai - The UAE and Israel men's rugby teams played exhibition games in Dubai on Friday


Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 19 Mar 2021, 11:05 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Mar 2021, 11:18 PM

Having warmed hearts around the world with their exhibition of solidarity through a couple of games of men’s rugby on Friday, the UAE and Israel rugby associations are now planning to build on their friendship.

And it’s the women that would play the lead role in their next plan as the UAE national team head coach Apollo Perelini have confirmed that talks are already underway on taking the UAE women’s team to Israel for a series of ‘friendship matches’.

“There have already been talks on that. The talks started even before they arrived in the UAE for these matches. We are looking to take our women’s team there for a series of matches,” Perelini told Khaleej Times, moments after Friday’s two exhibition matches at the Dubai Sports City.

Perelini takes great pride in his success of fielding a team of Emirati players for the historic match against the Israel Sevens team.

The former New Zealand rugby star also revealed that an all-Emirati rugby team would be playing in Israel.

“We already have an Emirati women’s team. We will be travelling over to Tel Aviv for UAE vs Israel women’s rugby friendly matches. That will be another round of friendship matches. And it’s important, you know, we are trying to be ambassadors of the two countries,” he said.

“Hopefully, if the pandemic situation improves, we are looking at the possibility of going with the women’s team to Tel Aviv soon and do the same exchange. And today was just the beginning of our relationship.”

And the start to the new relationship on Friday was an emotional moment for Perelini.

“It was quite an emotional experience, because you know, I don’t think people really realise the impact of this sort of events has made to the relationship of the Arabs and Israelis. It was amazing,” he said.

The first match on Friday was won by the Israel Olympic sevens team 33-0 behind closed doors.

In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, the two teams were then mixed for the second game with Israel-UAE White beating Israel-UAE Blue.

“The first game was not relevant. We had to put that on for the occasion. You know the Israeli players have been playing together for a long time. The Emiratis, on the other hand, have started this programme for local talent only 10 years ago. And today, the result is irrelevant. The participation is,” said Perelini.

“And the second game that was played between the mixed teams, we had Emiratis and Israelis mixing in one team against another team of Emiratis and Israelis. When you get that, the values of rugby truly come through. The values of rugby is all about respect and solidarity. And that was the great thing about today.”

The Israeli team, according to Perelini, were delighted to see Emirati participation in a game of rugby.

“They loved the occasion and the loved the Emirati participation in a rugby match. Some of the Israeli boys were telling me this after the match,” he said.

“That’s why it was never going to be an expat event. It was always going to be an Arab-Israeli event.”

More news from Tennis