British Navy and Technion Rugby Teams Prepare to Do Battle

'The games are very friendly and afterward the beer flows freely,' says president of Israel Rugby Union.

The British are back: 61 years after they were ousted from Palestine in no small part by armed Zionist insurgents, Her Majesty's troops have again landed on the shores of the Holy Land and are out to settle the score.

Well, sort of.

Wednesday evening the sailors of HMS St. Albans, which is anchoring at Haifa port, will take on the local Technion team at Kibbutz Yizre'el in a game of rugby. Heads will crash, bodies collide and national pride will be on the line in a take-no-prisoners encounter that should resurrect old grudges from decades ago.

"We welcome the British," said Menachem Ben Menachem, president of the Israel Rugby Union, apparently unaware of the historical significance of the clash. "The games are very friendly and afterward the beer flows freely. All are invited."

So much for ancient animosities. Still, Ben Menachem did turn the heat up a little when he gleefully recounted last year's "thrashing," as he put it, of a rugby team consisting of HMS Summerset seamen by the Technion players. Will today's match, then, be used by HMS St. Albans crewmen to reclaim the honor of Albion lost in that last encounter? Or will the Technion boys take the opportunity to sink another visiting British navy team?

The match between HMS St. Albans and the Technion team will be held at the Kibbutz Yizre'el pitch. Kickoff will be at 8 P.M., followed by beers and a barbecue.