“Rugby brings people together” said Springbok flyer Bryan Habana in his unique Sefrican accent in a Olympic promotional video for the International Rugby Board (IRB).
True to form, in Budapest recently, rugby did just that.
Playing in a Sevens game, two clubs from two conflicted regions took each other on on the rugby pitch. While one team won, another had to lose… that’s rugby (to borrow the famous line from cricket).
However, at the end of the day, rugby was the winner.
The Beit Jala Lions from Palestine traveled via Jordan to join the Beer-Sheva Camels from israel as well as teams from Italy and Hungary in a unique tournament in the Hungarian capital.
They were put through their paces by experts from the Rugby for Change group as well as some international referees. Initially the teams played touch rugby in a mixed group but later the Israelis took on their Palestinian opposition in a game of Sevens.
In addition to the screen-grab (above) from the video, another poignant quote in the video clip below is where the organisers reflect on how initially the teams stayed separated but how they untimately found common ground and started mingling over games of foosball and even the dance-floor.
Said the Israeli skipper: ” We came here to have fun. We came here to play rugby. No matter if you’re playing Hungary, Italy or Palestine. we’re just here to have fun.”
The IRB’s olympic video opens with chairman Bernard Lapasset saying “Rugby is reaching out…”
If this is how rugby does it… may there be many more.
Thank you to our friends at Rugby Asia Channel, as well as their newest contributors Zilia Papp and Asia Der for the report. Let’s share this story…