— by Amir Shoam
The U.S. rugby team for the Maccabiah in Israel this summer will train with the US Navy Seals at their facility on Coronado Island and at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista during this week. The team has been training for the last year under Shawn Lipman, who was an International with the USA Eagles — having played in the Rugby World Cup — and the captain of the USA Maccabiah Team that won the gold in 1997.
Rugby is the game that most of the western world plays instead of the American football. Despite their common origin, rugby differs from football in many ways, including:
More after the jump.
- The forward pass is completely forbidden, and players can only advance by breaking the opposition line or running to a ball kicked by a teammate in front of them.
- The game does not stop after the tackle and substitutions are limited, which requires the players for better aerobic ability.
- Each team has 15 players on the field: eight forwards who win the ball at set pieces and after the tackle, and seven backs that break the opposition line and score most “tries” (equivalent to touchdown).
- The game is not violent, and only specific ways of tackling and pushing are allowed, and so the players use minimal protective equipment.
“The squad that we have assembled is the most talented and athletic squad ever assembled and has seven international level players”, said Lipman to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “I anticipate all the teams will be better this time and the competition will be very good. We believe that by training, coaching and managing ourselves like a professional elite level team, we will be prepared for the challenge of the tournament”.
The team is expecting a fierce competition from nations like Britain, Australia, South Africa and Israel. For the first time in the Maccabiah the teams will also compete in the seven-a-side format, which is shorter (14 minutes instead of 80) and requires a better athletic ability as the seven players need to cover the whole same-sized field. “We are planning on winning Gold in both”, added Lipman.
After the trials, the team will be fully appointed with additional 18 to 20 players. Ten players have already been named to the team:
From left to right: Dallen Stanford, Matt Hawkins, Zach Test and Shawn Lipman, all are USA Eagles
- Matthew Crawford, Collegiate All-American in 2011 and 2012;
- Joji Kurosaki, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah, Boston University and University of Oregon Rugby teams;
- Max Levine, two-time DII Collegiate National Champion, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah and Middlebury College Rugby Club Captain;
- James Murray, 2007 NYS Rugby Men’s College All-Stars — SUNY Cortland;
- Robert Shaw, Current U.S. National Team Eagle standout and playing professionally in England;
- Ross Silverman, 2010 U.S. Rugby Federation High Performance Grant Recipient;
- Joshua Slater, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah;
- Dallen Stanford, USA Eagles;
- Kevin Swiryn, USA Eagles, American Rugby Union Player and leading scorer and points for the U.S. during the ’08-09 IRB Sevens World Series;
- Roman Wilson who plays for the Oklahoma City Crusaders;
- Zach Test, professional Rugby player with the U.S. National Team, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah, IRB Sevens World Series in 2010-11, and member of the U.S. Team that took the bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games.