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Israel-Malta rugby international off due to region’s instability – governing body

Rugby Europe has accepted a request made by the Malta Rugby Football Union so that the opening match from the Men’s Conference match in Israel on October 28 will be put on hold, the Times of Malta can confirm.

Malta were drawn in Group D of the Men’s Conference where they were pitted against Israel and Cyprus.

The Malta national team were due to open their international commitments for season 2023-24 at the end of this month with an away trip to the Israeli city of Kibutz.

However, following the recent developments in Israel, the match was put into serious doubt.

Last Friday, Israel declared war on Hamas after the group launched a devastating surprise attack from Gaza. 

Given the instability in the region, the MRFU immediately sent a request to Rugby Europe to ask permission so that the national team does not travel for the match at the end of the month.

MRFU president Robert Portelli confirmed to the Times of Malta that the request has been accepted by the European governing body.

“I can confirm that Rugby Europe has accepted our request not to travel to Israel for our opening international match later on this month,” Portelli said.

“We were concerned by the instability in the region and for us the well-being of our players, coaching staff and association officials is of paramount importance.

“Now we hope to be able to host the Israel team in the second match in the group next April.”

The hopes of the match being held this month were always going to be in serious doubt, particularly after the Israeli Rugby Football Union gave its blessing to its national team players to join the country’s armed forces in the war.

“The rugby association strengthens the IDF fighters and security forces in the war effort,” the Israel Rugby Union said.

“To all our players in the combat units – go out in peace and return the peace and security to Israel.

“Rugby Israel supports the IDF and Israeli security forces in their current efforts.

To all our players in the combat units – may you go and return in peace and return the peace and quiet to Israel.”

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