All Blacks to boost Israeli and Palestinian rugby

September 27, 2012 Agencies
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Kiwi-style rugby is about to receive an international boost—in the Middle East.

Richard Skelly and Ambassador Shemi Tzur pic: Alexandra Alvarez

In a historic sporting project involving the New Zealand Rugby Union, the Israeli Rugby Union and the foreign ministries of each country, two senior New Zealand coaches—Richard Skelly and Chris Stirling—will today leave for Israel, where they will host a training camp for aspiring rugby coaches and players.

Earlier this week Shemi Tzur, the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand met with Steve Tew, CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union as well as with Game Development Manager Richard Skelly. Mr Tew said that sees this trip as an exciting opportunity to underline the Union’s commitment to helping to develop the game of rugby around the world.

Mr. Skelly said he was very excited to share with players the non-contact game of Rippa Rugby for which the union has developed a sophisticated online coaching tool box and is accessible online to all rugby coaches.

The New Zealanders are booked at Kibbutz Israel for one week. They will also hold a training clinic for the Palestinian rugby team in Beit Jala.

The Israeli Rugby Union was established in the 1970s by migrants from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa who were keen to revitalise interest in a sport whose fortunes had ebbed since the time of British colonial rule in the Middle East.

Today, the union’s work continues to gain in popularity, especially among the Israeli youth, and achievement, currently ranking 56th in the world.

Ambassador Tzur admitted that the Israeli players “possibly have a little more work to do” if they were to ever catch up with the All Blacks…

“On the other hand, the arrival of these two rugby coaches to Israel means that day could be drawing closer—so we’re very honoured to have Richard and Chris with us for a week.”

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