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Israeli rugby: the pride of Zion

Israeli rugby: the pride of Zion
 
Former professional player, Nathan Amos, knows one or two things about rugby, but representing Israel in European competitions always keeps exciting the 36-year-old.

Rugby runs deep in the veins of Amos, a personal trainer and assistant manager of a gym at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel.

His grandfather and uncle played rugby, and Amos lived in Souh Africa until he was 10 years of age, before making Aliyah.

After his army service he decided he wanted to go a little wider with rugby. He trialled and played for Northern Irish club Rainey Old Boys for ten years before moving to Ulster amateurs and other semi-professional teams.

Finishing his Irish stint, he moved to Canada and Germany, where he played fully professionally.

I caught him for a chat during Israel’s tour to Prague prior to facing group leaders Czech Republic on April 25th in division 2A of the European Nations Cup.

“After playing in Germany I decided to go back home. I got to a certain age when I need to think about my future and where I want to live,” he said.

“I always wanted to live in Israel, I love Israel, and I wanted to study education, so all routes brought me back there.”

Representing Israel is always exciting for Amos who had acquired 55 caps in blue and white prior to the match in Prague.

“Representing Israel means everything to me. Every time I put on the jersey it’s very emotional. It brings back a lot of why to be Jewish and all those things that have got to do with being a Zionist.”

Playing in Eastern Europe also carries significant importance for Amos and his fellow team members.

“It always brings you back to the Second World War and you always feel very proud standing and singing the Tikva. You always feel very proud representing your country, not many people get to do that, I really enjoy it,” he said patriotically.

Amos was confident Israel can obtain their first Division 2A win over the strong Czechs, attributing the belief to the great friendship in the team and the fact they want to play for each other, despite the rocky start to the campaign – three losses in three games.

Coach Raanan Penn spoke very highly of the loose head prop, pointing to his great fitness as a key highlight of the match that ended 26-26.

After leading 17-7 at the interval it wasn’t far for the visitors from a historic victory. The Czechs needed a last minute try to equalise and deny Amos and co a famous win against the overwhelming favourites.

Speaking after the match Amos felt disappointed, but grateful: “I think we played well, I think we lost a bit at the end, but I am really proud of the boys, we played out of our skins and I think next game we’re going to win it, we just improve and improve.

“The highlight of the match was the first half, I think we just put everything out there, we left nothing in the dressing rooms and just went and played a great half of rugby and I really enjoyed it.

“It’s good after all these years to be able to still play and play at that intensity and show that we belong in this group.”

Click here to see the full match scorecard on the World Rugby website (opens in a new window)

 

This story was first published on the Sports Gazette on May 7th 2015, available from: http://www.sportsgazette.co.uk/section.php?aid=1410&sid=19

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