Rugby union at the Maccabiah Games

Rugby union has been played in the Maccabiah Games since 1981. The variety played is the 15-a-side version, rather than rugby sevens.

The national sides which compete are organised by the national branches of the Maccabi World Union, rather than by the national rugby unions of each country, with the exception of Israel. Israel is also exceptional in being the only Maccabiah team for which one does not need to be Jewish to qualify.

Another notable difference is that Scotland, England, Wales and (Northern) Ireland[1] do not compete separately as they would normally, but as a Great Britain XV.[2]

Maccabiah rugby

Although rugby had been played in Israel for a number of decades, it was only in the 1970s that it became properly organised. In addition, it was felt that not enough of the nations competing at the Maccabiah could field good rugby teams. For example, New Zealand and Ireland are both major rugby playing nations, but do not have a big enough Jewish community to produce a particularly strong Maccabiah XV. In addition, some major rugby playing nations such as the Pacific Islands of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Japan, have an even more negligible Jewish population.

However, despite this there have often been six or seven sides competing at the Maccabiah Games. Teams tend to be from the major English speaking nations (with the exception of NZ and Ireland), but teams from France, Chile and Uruguay have also competed.

The Israel team is unique in being the only full national side at the Maccabiah, and which can contain non-Jewish Israeli players.

Maccabiah rugby started at the 1981 Maccabiah Games, and has been played continually ever since.[3][4]

Jewish rugby

Rugby is played in many countries with sizable Jewish populations, notably France, the British Commonwealth and the USA. It has also been played in Israel since before the Second World War.

Some noted Jewish rugby players include:

Notable Jewish players who have competed at the Maccabiah include:


Games have been hosted at various venues. In 1993, they were at the Tel Aviv University campus;[6] in 1997, they were at the Herzliya Municipal Stadium (HMS);[7] in 2005 and again in 2009, they were at the HMS and the Wingate Institute.


External links