Yes, there’s rugby in Israel; there’s rucking, mauling, scrumming, and kicking with the famous oval ball. It was, of course, the Brits who brought rugby to Israel during the administration of Mandate Palestine, but it’s not just Anglo immigrants involved – around half of those currently playing the sport were born in Israel.
One of those is Yonatan Kaplan, who hails from Kibbutz Yizre’el – Israel’s rugby capital – and captains their team. He’s also a stalwart of Israel’s national side and has seen great changes in Israeli rugby over the years.
Host Laragh Widdess attended the final of the Israeli rugby league, contested between ASA Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Yizre’el, to see what rugby in the Holy Land looks like and to meet Yonatan, who discusses domestic development, climbing the world rankings, and making it to Rio 2016.
Written by Laragh Widdess, produced by Amy Racs