Venue: Wingate Institute, Netanya
Referee: Jérôme Lamirand (France)
There is no doubt that this is the rugby test match of this weekend. At stake is a playoff against the winner of the ENC 1B competition. The Netherlands is the highest ranking team that Israel has ever played. The odds are against the home side but then few people are aware of what the Israelis have achieved to date.
It was not that long ago that Israel ranked in the 90’s on the IRB Rankings table. Today they clock in at 47th place. This has been a result of a gradual rise through the ENC competitions over the last decade plus some recent wins in the race for a place at the 2015 Rugby World Cup finals.
Nobody in Israel is expecting their side to do the impossible and make the finals. But Israel’s aim is to go where no other Israeli rugby side has managed. And that is as far as they can get!
Today they are playing a team that is in 34th place on the IRB Rankings. It’s a huge ask but it is certainly not impossible. Israel has reached this position be coming first on the ENC 2B table for 2012-13 being the first leg. Then they had to fend of challenges from winning teams from lower divisions-firstly Slovenia and then recently Luxembourg. In between they have still had to play their regular competition games, defeating Serbia 18-6 away last weekend.
This has meant that the Israeli team has had to do a lot of travel over the last three weeks. This will certainly have cemented a strong team spirit within the team but the travel will have sapped physical energy from the side. This could count against them.
The Netherlands have two distinct disadvantages. Firstly, this is their first game together this season. There are new players in the team and combinations will be new. Secondly they are playing away. It has only been in the last few years that the European rugby body has made the higher placed team play away to the lower team in the World Cup qualifying games. No longer are these games a given win for the higher ranked side. And this is what makes this game so interesting.
But in the end the Netherlands is a stronger side coming from a much stronger club competition involving 7000 players as opposed to 700 in Israel. This depth will tell in the end.
Prediction: Netherlands to win by 15 points. But don’t be surprised if the score is closer!
|5||Yonatan Kaplan (Capt.)|
|HEAD COACH: Raanan Penn|
- Altink Tom (LRC DIOK)
- Balkom van Rik (RC the Dukes)
- Barendregt Alexander (Haagsche RC)
- Brouwer Sam (RC 't Gooi) 1st cap
- Carroll Storm (RC Hilversum)
- Danen Dirk (RC Hilversum)
- Darlington Andy (RC 't Gooi) 1st cap
- Grimbergen Vincent (LRC DIOK) captain
- Illstons Tony (Haagsche RC) 1st cap
- Ketelings Jan (Utrechtse RC)
- Koenen Leon (LRC DIOK)
- Kuijpers Alex (RC 't Gooi)
- Langelaan Hugo (RC 't Gooi)
- Mambo Norbecio (RC the Dukes)
- Osch van Maarten (RC the Dukes)
- Roijen Barry (RC the Hookers) 1st cap
- Romijn Bart Jan (Haagsche RC)
- Roovers Rik (RC Hilversum)
- Ruijter de Thom (LRC DIOK) 1st cap
- Schermer Roy (Castricumse RC)
- Verhoeven Nicky (RC the Dukes)
- Vliet van Huey (Haagsche RC)
- Volker Danny (Amstelveense RC) 1st cap
Head Coach: Alex Chang