Players from the Maccabi Great Britain team are in action this weekend in an exhibition match against SSE National League 3 side Barking RFC.
The contest is expected to be the first of an annual fixture to commemorate former Maccabi GB player Jonathan ‘Jock’ Seltzer who died of pancreatic cancer in June, 2010, aged 56.
It will be known as the Jock Seltzer Challenge and will involve Maccabi GB players from last year’s Maccabiah Games in Israel. The line-up includes ex-Saracens and England Juniors forward Aaron Liffchack and Loughborough and England Students back Sam Katz, as well as a number of players from previous tournaments.
The game will also be used as a fund-raiser for both Romford-based care provider St Francis Hospice, where Scotsman Seltzer was looked after for the last two weeks of his life, and for the Maccabi GB team as builds its resources ahead of the next Maccabiah in 2017.
Jill Seltzer, Jonathan’s wife, said was she was delighted that an annual fixture in honour of him had been created given his devotion to both the sport and the Jewish community. Indeed, Seltzer was involved in the Maccabi GB Rugby team five times over a 20-year period, either playing or playing as part of its management.
She said: "Jonathan took great pleasure in promoting rugby in the Jewish community. Although suffering from pancreatic cancer, he saw his son Robert play in the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel.
"He was fanatically committed to rugby, his Scottish heritage, his family, being Jewish and, of course, the Maccabiah, and he managed to blend them all together when part of the management team in 2005 and 2009,” added Jon Tyler, manager of the last two Maccabi Games in 2009 and 2013.
"It is fair to say that without his commitment it is possible the GB Maccabi team would not even have made it to Israel those years."
Tyler recalled the dedication Seltzer showed, even in the face of his fatal illness, to ensure the Maccabi team raised the required funds to compete in the Games. "Even when he had to drop out because of his illness he was still making phone calls and sending emails to prod and enthuse people."
Sam Katz, who captained Maccabi GB in Israel last year, said that despite the exhibition nature of the fixture, the team would nevertheless treat the game like a competitive fixture.
He said: "I have been told Barking will put out a weaker team the same weekend for a cup competition they have, so I believe this game will be against a strong opposition."
"Either way, this game is all about remembering Jock’s great input to Maccabiah rugby over the years,” he said.
The action gets under way at 3pm on Sunday at Barking’s home ground in Dagenham.