Jewish youth rugby is alive and well after three players from local clubs were selected the Middlesex Under 15s 1st XV.
JFS Year 10 boys Abel Leaman and Adam Driver and Sam Isaacs from Merchant Taylors were in the starting line-up for their County’s opening match of the season against Sussex in Brighton.
Lock forward Leaman and scrum half Driver, who both play for Harrow RFC in Stanmore and outside centre Isaacs, who plays for local rivals Watford-based club Fullerians, have also been selected for the RFU National Elite School of Rugby at London Wasps.
After the match, which Middlesex lost 7-3, Isaacs, who played football at the Fulham Academy for five years before switching to rugby, said: “It’s not a sport that you normally associate with Jewish boys, but I go to a rugby playing school and developed my game there. I think it’s great that JFS now have rugby teams and that more Jewish boys are playing regularly and it’s inspiring to see players like Adam and Abel coming through.
“I also always thought of myself as a footballer but it’s the ethos of rugby that got me hooked”, said Driver, who took up the sport only two years ago. “No matter how aggressive it gets on the field, the moment its over the players from both sides are the best of friends. There are no egos, we all respect each other for the sheer physical battering we take and give out.”
“To an outsider it just looks like 30 blokes having a fight,” said Leaman, “and to be honest in the tight five of the scrum it often feels like that but actually the game is very well regulated and the referees are constantly talking to the players to prevent infringements occurring.
“Just as well”, said Isaacs, “seeing that we’d all get locked up if we did most of what we do anywhere else than on a rugby field.”
Leaman, who won the man-of-the-match award for his performance in Brighton, was captain of the Maccabi GB rugby Under 16s side for last year’s Maccabiah.
“We are developing a real structure for Jewish boys at Maccabi,” he said. “Last year was the first time we had an U16s side and there is an U18s side too”. He and Adam joined Sam in hoping that more Jewish boys will take up the game and join local clubs which cater for boys and girls from six to 18.”