SA Maccabi rugby brings home the gold
South Africa’s Maccabi rugby team is bringing home gold after it overwhelmed the Great Britain team by 33 to 6 in front of a record crowd of about 3 000 spectators on Sunday, 24 July.
They had a spectacular win in taking the coveted gold at the Wingate Institute in Netanya. Did it have anything to do with the South African squad’s visit to the Kotel in Jerusalem just two days before the final?
Richard Bryant, Kym Hirshovitz, and Vice-Captain Jordan Chait were the try scorers. Chait, who earned himself the title of Most Valuable Player in the tournament, also kicked over two conversions. Dylan Coll also slotted over a conversion in the match.
Great Britain got to the finals, but have never actually won in rugby at Maccabi, in spite of this being their third appearance in the finals since rugby was introduced in 1985.
South Africa has played in the finals eight times, winning six golds. However, it has been 17 years since they took home the golden Maccabi title. The last time was in 2005.
The Israel team’s head coach, South African Kevin Musikanth, said, “South Africa were a standout team and deserved to win the Maccabiah under their captain, Hacjivah Dayimani.
“The standard of play was more competitive than the last games, and it’s a credit to Israel rugby to have clinched the bronze in the 15s after defeating Australia 17-13.”
The South African squad were coached by former Springboks and Stormers head coach, Robbie Fleck, and Gary Gold (USA national coach). They were managed by Western Province player/coach and former Maccabi SA winner Anton Chait.
After winning the gold, Chait said, “It was a privilege to have managed with coaches of the calibre of Fleck and his calm demeanour and the experienced Gold. I’m proud to be a South African Jew and to have won a gold.”
In the semi-finals, South Africa swept the “Jewish Wallabies” off their feet by decisively thrashing Australia 38-0. They had no chance of comeback against South Africa, whose try scorers were scrumhalf Thomas Walker and wing Dean Gordon with two tries a piece. Jayson Hirshovitz also scored a try, while Chait converted at 100%, and kicked a penalty.
In the other semi-final, Israel, the favourites, lost in a thriller to the underdogs Great Britain 13-12.
Photo credit: Mark Patterson