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While the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is widely considered a talent funnel to the United States national teams, the competition has also proven to be a pathway to the United States Maccabi Rugby team. Every four years teams from around the world compete in the Maccabi Games , held in Israel.
The Maccabi Games use sport as a means of fostering a connection to Israel and brings together Jewish athletes from around the globe. In total, roughly 20 thousand athletes from 80 countries will compete in over 40 different sports.
The competition features both the 7s and 15s versions of rugby, all played within a span of 12 days. The United States has a rich history at the Maccabi Games, competing in every event since rugby’s inclusion in 1985. The U.S. won silver medals in 1993 and 2005 and defeated an eight team field in 15s in 1997 for its first ever gold. Then in 2013, the team won its first ever gold medal in the 7s version of the competition.
A number of notable U.S. Eagles players have come through the ranks of the Maccabi’s including, Olympian Zach Test, and United States national team players Shawn Lipman, Dallen Stanford and Kevin Swiryn. In fact, Swiryn will be suiting up again in 2017 as captain, with Lipman and Test heading up the coaching staff.
“The range of talent is very diverse. On one hand you have established elite level International and professional players and on the other, you have some really good up and coming players from the college ranks,” said Shawn Lipman, the coach of the United States Maccabi rugby team and captain of the 1997 gold medal winning squad.
In addition to the list of notable international players, a number of players were discovered thanks to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC). Joel Cohen, who made his way onto the team after a superb performance for Wisconsin in 2012, played in the 2013 games and is on the roster for 2017. Jared Braun, a Cal Bear has been selected for his third Maccabi Games. Former Dartmouth players Andrew Berson and Jack Braun are also going to participate in 2017. The latter was named to the Rugby Today All Tournament Team at the 2016 CRC.
“The CRC gives us an opportunity to find and evaluate players. Our roster is becoming younger and younger thanks in part to us finding quality players in the college ranks,” Lipman added. “We are always on the lookout for new talent. If someone impressed us at this year’s CRC we will certainly try and make them apart of our plans going forward.”
The Maccabi team is in its final stages of preparation in their quest to win two gold medals, fifteens and sevens, starting on July 4.