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Australia’s first Jewish Super Rugby player

  • JackSportDavid-Horwitz
There are not many Jewish players in Australian national sporting teams. It could simply be because they are not good enough.
by JACK MILNER | Mar 30, 2017

David Horwitz, however, has just become Australia’s first Jewish Super Rugby player. He has not quite made a national team yet, but is now a regular in the Waratahs franchise.

While David is a born and bred Australian, his parents are from South Africa. He attended Moriah College, a Jewish school in Sydney.

South African rugby referee Jonathan Kaplan, who is friendly with David’s uncle, says he has been watching the 22-year-old in action. “Right now, I think he is a good provincial player.”

David was one of 10 players who made his debut for the Waratahs last year. He made an impression in the first match, scoring his very first try in his opening game in round one against the Queensland Reds, becoming the first of six Waratah players to score their inaugural try in their debut season.

He went on to play in 13 out of 15 games for the team last season and although he started off as a flyhalf, he has slotted in as a dependable option at inside centre.

David has spent the last few years as the starting flyhalf for Randwick in the Shute Shield. He was first invited to train with the Waratahs when he was just 18 years old and he is now in his fourth full year with the team.

He was selected to the 2014 Australian under-20 team, adding to an already impressive resumé which includes representative honours as a former New South Wales Barbarian (2013), Australian Schoolboy (2011/12) and New South Wales Colts.

David switched from Moriah to Scots College to develop his sporting talents and quickly proved himself equally adept at both flyhalf and inside centre. 

In an interview ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby season, David said the team’s aim is to make the semifinals and challenge for the title. That is a very tough call, indeed, considering the team has played five matches, winning against the Force and Reds - both Australian teams - but losing to the Lions, Sharks and Brumbies.

He didn’t play in the first game, came on as substitute in the next three, but did start in the match against the Force, scoring a try in the 79th minute (converted) which allowed the Waratahs to win 32-25. 

Though his Jewishness it is not something by which he wants to be defined, it’s hard for him not to feel like somewhat of an ambassador - he was named Jewish Sportsman of the Year last year.

“I don’t want to be known for that kind of quirk or gimmick,” he said in an interview with Australian Jewish News. “I want to be known as a footballer on merit and I also want to be known in the Jewish community because I’m a proud Jew and I know that does coincide with the rugby because it’s almost a strange thing because there’s not a lot of Jewish sportsmen out there.”

In fact, when Rabbi Levi Wolff from the Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction attended the Waratahs’ clash with the Rebels, it was a moment that held special significance for David. 

“There’s nearly 1 000 people who go to his synagogue and listen to his sermons, so for him to show that individual care, and come and sit with my family, and try and understand that part of my life even though it’s so foreign to him, it’s great,” he said.

However, David is pragmatic when it comes to practising his religion, realistic about having to play on Shabbat, or observing fasting holiday Yom Kippur.

“When I’ve talked to my parents about it they’ve been quite flexible that this (rugby) is my passion, this is what I want to make a career out of and you’ve definitely got to make sacrifices because of that,” he said.

“Although rugby’s so important to me now, it is a sport at the end of the day, a game.

“It’s one that I work very hard at and I am passionate about, but whenever it all seems like it’s getting too much, it helps me to think back to the fact that it’s not the biggest thing in life.”

That is why David is also studying for a commerce degree at Sydney University.

“All you want to do is go out there and contribute and try to do some positive things for your team,” he said.

 “It’s a learning curve, I definitely want to show the coaches that I can be impactful off the bench, but obviously I’m also chasing that starting role and cementing my spot in the team.”

 

 

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