The USA Maccabia rugby team steps onto the field Wednesday to pursue one of two gold medals on offer at the 19th Maccabiah Games.
This quadrennial sports event is essentially the Jewish Olympics, with hundreds of Jewish athletes from around the world convening on Israel to compete in a variety of sports. Two of those events are rugby – 15s, and 7s.
This is the first time that rugby 7s has been incorporated into the event, and the USA has an excellent shot at gold as they feature former USA 7s players Dallen Stanford (team captain) and Kevin Swyrin, recent Cal star Ross Biestman, and current Cal player Jared Braun.
"The U.S. has never sent a rugby team as committed, conditioned or talented as this one to the games," said Head Coach Shawn Lipman to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. "We have exceptionally high standards for ourselves, and are absolutely dedicated to coming home with two gold medals."
On Wednesday, four countries will play in the 7s competition, with the USA being joined by Great Britain, Israel, and South Africa.
The USA team opens up against South Africa Wednesday evening at 5:40pm local time, which is 10:40am Eastern Daylight Time, and 7:40am Pacific Daylight Time.
Then 100 minutes later the USA plays Israel, followed almost right after, at 8:40pm with a match against Great Britain.
After that, the teams are seeded 1 through 4, with the top two playing for the Gold.
The Maccabiah Games officially open on July 18, meaning the 7s tournament will be done before the games start.
The 15s tournament begins a day after that, on Friday, July 19, with Great Britain playing Canada. On July 21, the USA opens their account, playing Canada, and then they play Great Britain on July 23.
The top two teams from the two pools (the other being South Africa, Israel, Australia and Chile) will play in the semis on July 25, and the final matches are held July 29.