Cape Town — After pressure from stakeholders, the Israeli rugby team Tel Aviv Heat has been booted from the 2023 edition of the Mzansi Challenge.
SA Rugby confirmed late on Friday afternoon that the team would not travel to South Africa to take part in the competition.
The Mzansi Challenge is scheduled to start in March, with an invitation having been extended to the Mexican Rhinos who are earmarked to replace Tel Aviv Heat. The general council of the governing body still needs to approve the replacement team.
SA Rugby informed the Israeli team on Friday of their decision to withdraw them from the competition.
They were scheduled to compete in the tournament with four other international teams and six South African sides.
“We have listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups and have taken this decision to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division,” said Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, in a statement.
“Notwithstanding the fact that Israel Is a full member of World Rugby and the IOC,” Alexander added.
The Mzansi Challenge kicks off on March 24 with the Diables (Spain), Simbas (Kenya), Welwitschias (Namibia), and Goshawks (Zimbabwe) joining SA provinces Leopards, Valke, Boland Kavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, and SWD Eagles.
The mother union said an adjusted fixture list would be issued in due course.