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USA Maccabia Team Ready for Jewish Olympics

Friday Jun 19, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby National Teams

image for this article
 (Scenes from the 2005 tournament)

July the USA Maccabia team assembles to challenge for the gold medal they last won in 1997.

The Maccabia games is a quadrennial athletic festival modeled after the Olympic Games. It is for Jewish athletes, and is held every year in Israel. The games have sometimes been plagued by the violence that has hit the Middle East, but the American team has attended every year, winning silver in 1993, 2001 and 2005, and beating South Africa in the final in 1997.

South Africa, unfortunately, will not be attending this year due to financial constraints. But Australia, Great Britain, Israel, Canada and Chile round out a competitive field of six teams.

The USA team has been hit by some tough-to-take injuries. Former Cal loose forward Ross Biestman was injured and won’t be able to play. An ACL tear sidelined center Adam Mayer, while Matt Marcus was also hurt.

Maccabia USA coach Craig Levine lobbied hard for USA 7s wing Zach Test and USA 7s captain and newly-capped Eagle Kevin Swiryn. He could get only one, with Test accompanying the team to Israel before then trying out for a spot on the 7s team going to the World Games.

“This is more than just a rugby tour,” said Levine. “This will be my fourth time and it’s an incredible experience. For the guys who keep kosher to the guys who can’t even spell Judaism, it means something. The trip just bBrings you closer together. This trip is culturally unbelievable.”

Test’s presence will be welcome, as will that of Adam Zelazny, a Dallas-based scrumhalf with plenty of experience and ability, Middlebury captain Max Levine, USA U20 center Jared Braun, and Denver Highlanders’ Ryan Diehl.

The USA team is in Group A, and will take on Australia July 12 and Canada July 16. Then, should they win, they will enter the semifinals on July 19 and the final a mere three days later.

With South Africa out of the picture, it will be a dogfight between USA, Australia and Great Britain for the gold medal.

USA Maccabia Team Squad:
Zachary Abbott  SH
Kenneth Bernstein W
Jaron Fragner  No. 8
Jared Braun Center
Seth Cohen Lock
Ryan Diehl FB/W
Joseph Finnern Prop
Robert Glauser Prop
Daniel Gordon W/FB
Elan Hoffman Hooker
Joji Kurosaki Flanker
Max Levine Center/SH
Blake Regan Center
Derek Ostreicher W/FB
Daniel Pammer Hooker
Jonathan Schaefer FH
Ken Schulman Prop
Aviv Shamah Prop/Lock
Joshua Slater Flanker
Jesse Taylor Lock/No. 8
Zachary Test W/FB
Adam Zelazny SH
Craig Levine, Coach
Gregory Schor-Haskin, Assist. Coach

- Alex Goff

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