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CAMP RED CLOUD, SOUTH KOREA — U.S. and British soldiers plan to play an international rugby match in Iraq next month.

Staff Sgt. Dominic Budzisz, of the 10th Soldier Support Battalion, contacted U.S. ruggers last month seeking players for the game, which could be played at Camp Victory in Baghdad, he said.

2nd Infantry Division rugby captain Sgt. 1st Class Ray Hernandez said players are excited about the prospect of a game in Iraq. Many ruggers in the Korea-based division are serving with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Strike Force) in Iraq, he said.

However, Hernandez said the demands of the mission in Iraq might make it difficult for some soldiers to participate.

U.S. soldiers and international contractors play touch rugby in Baghdad’s Green Zone, but the full-contact version of the game is unheard of in Iraq, where soccer is the national sport.

USA Rugby director of communications and promotions Bryce Eberhart stated in an e-mail that his organization would provide uniforms for the match, likely to be played in mid-to-late July.

Budzisz thinks the match might screen on ESPN ahead of an international match involving the U.S. team.

“This has the potential to be on prime time television and could be a huge morale booster home and abroad,” he stated in an e-mail.

Players from any branch of the services are eligible for the game, he said.

Iraq-based military rugby players interested in playing can contact Budzisz at: dominic.j.budzisz@us.army.mil.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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