South Africa Rugby withdraws competition invite to Israeli team
Sport’s national president Mark Alexander says Tel Aviv Heat uninvited from March tournament after ‘we listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups’
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa Rugby announced on Friday that it had withdrawn an invitation to Israeli club Tel Aviv Heat to compete in a second-tier competition from March 24.
On Thursday, a press release from the national body said Heat plus teams from Spain, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe and six South African sides would take part.
However, SA Rugby informed Tel Aviv 24 hours later that the invitation for them to take part had been withdrawn. A Mexican side could replace the Israelis.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said the decision had been taken after “we listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups,” without giving further details.
“We have taken this decision to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division, notwithstanding the fact that Israel is a full member of World Rugby and the IOC,” Alexander said.
South Africa has taken a hardline stance against Israel and staunchly supports the Palestinians. It downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv in 2019 and pulled out its ambassador.
The African National Congress (ANC) has long adopted a very hostile stance toward Israel, endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2002.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.