US/World News

Argentina’s ‘Jewish’ rugby club wins country’s top tournament

(JTA) – A rugby team identified with Jews and Israel won the Buenos Aires league championship, the sport’s biggest tournament in Argentina. Hindu Club beat local competitor Alumni 27-20 Saturday to become the Argentinian capital’s top team. Because of its Jewish membership and fanbase, Hindu is known as the country’s Jewish rugby team. Starting in the 1960s, large numbers of Jewish families have joined the Hindu Club, a country club in Buenos Aires, which takes its name from an Indian play performed by its founders. At matches, supporters sometimes dress up as Orthodox Jews or chant: “We don’t have friends. We are black and Jews.” “Black” in this context does not refer to people of African descent. Rather it is a slang term for people seen as being low class or having dark skin relative to the stereotype of blonde, aristocratic rugby players. Fans of Hindu also wave Israeli flags at matches.

Hindu has won more titles than any other Argentinian rugby team, including six of the past 10 of the Bueno Aires league. Although it has Jewish ties, Hindu is not associated with any Jewish institution. The real Jewish Argentinian rugby team in that sense is Hebraica, an amateur club that is associated with a Jewish country club and community center of the same name. It sometimes faces antisemitism from opposing fans. Some professional European soccer teams are also associated with Jews, including Amsterdam’s Ajax and England’s Tottenham Hotspurs. This leads to displays of solidarity with Jews by the teams’ fans and of antisemitism by their opponents. It can be hard to tell where the pageantry stops and starts.

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