The next day, the games ended with the official Closing Ceremonies, held at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Sharon, Jerusalem Mayor Ohmert and other dignitaries from Israel and abroad honored the event. The fast-paced spectacle featured hundreds of singers, dancers, drummers and acrobats entertaining the audience with singing, dancing, steps, rap, acrobatics, a light show and fireworks.
USA Rugby was disappointed, but took pride in knowing they had left everything on the field, and gave the more experienced South Africans all they could handle. Indeed, South Africa’s coach praised the USA side, noting the high standard of rugby and intensity the team brought to both tests. He also proposed that USA Maccabiah tour South Africa in 2003 for a test series against South Africa Maccabiah and other local clubs.
Special honors are due to captain Craig Levine, who led the team with intensity, class and style on and off the field for the whole tour. His leadership was truly the hallmark of the club and made the tour memorable for the whole team. Jim Calmas and Mark Santiago also deserve high praise for their outstanding coaching efforts. Jim’s emphasis on fitness, fundamentals and tactics put the team in the best position possible to earn gold. Plus, his team management and leadership made the team focus and gel into a tight-knit unit.
USA Maccabiah Rugby now looks ahead to the future. With a tour to South Africa in 2003 and other developmental activities before the Games in 2005, the dance card is already full. With fifteen players under 30 years old and likely to return, the next team looks primed to take back the gold medal.
Written by Rob Perle