The traveling squad consisted of 28 players – who were selected from previous camps in Saranac Lake, N.Y., and USA Rugby Tracking Camps. Head Coach Shawn Lipman was focused on accomplishing many objectives with this assembly – one of them to assess his players against professional and international stars during the highly competitive, 49th annual Aspen Ruggerfest tournament. Other important tasks included building the team culture and chemistry, developing the players and application of the team patterns, and playing approach.
“We’ve been really impressed with the strides our players have made with respect to their strength and conditioning,” said Head Coach Lipman. “This can be attributed primarily to their participation in the Volt Athletics strength training program. Running a 1,000-meter shuttle test at close to 9,000-foot elevation is a daunting task, and some of our players were finishing with world-class times.”
The team performed extremely well, finishing fourth in the tournament. The team began with an impressive, 32-5, win over Heart of America; the squad then beat a very powerful Denver Barbarians side, 15-5, earning a spot in the semi finals against the tournament-favorite Gentlemen of Aspen. The Aspen team featured many current international players including Lou Stanfill as well as USA Rugby co-captain and most-capped Eagle Todd Clever. The Maccabi squad started off a little overwhelmed by the occasion and went down by four tries in the first half, but the team rallied and competed with tremendous determination in the second half, conceding a single score.
“It was a great litmus test to see exactly where we are just under a year from Israel,” said Lipman. “We now know what we need to work on to improve and take us to performing at the highest level possible. We have a very diverse group of players from Internationals, Olympians, to Chase Schor Haskin, who at 17 is the youngest player ever to be selected to the USA Maccabi Rugby Team.”
The 2013 Maccabi USA Rugby squad finished with a Bronze medal in 15s and Gold in sevens. Lipman has learned from leading the charge at the previous Games that more match time is needed before arriving in Israel.
“We have development plans built for all of our players and we will assemble again at the Las Vegas Invitational tournament to further prepare and compete,” Lipman said. “We hope to have many of our Old Boys there to not only cheer us on, but to honor our first two inductees to the Maccabi USA Rugby Hall of Fame.”
Players that were named to the Maccabi USA Rugby team include:
Alex Appel (Mystic River), Andrew Berson (Dartmouth), Jack Braun (Dartmouth), Jared Braun (Olympic Club), Joel Cohen (Chicago Lions), Shawn Cox (Austin Huns), Elliot Dillon-Herzog (Ponsonby – NZ), Jon Feldman (Mystic River), Marcos Flegmann (Mystic River), Taylor Howden (PRO Rugby – Ohio Aviators), Devin Ibanez (Glenfield – NZ), Isaac Katz (Philadelphia Whitemarsh), Mike Korn (New England College), Tanner Mohr (Olympic Club), Devin Pearl (Buffalo), Ben Rotstein (Glendale Raptors), Mikey Rudzinsky (Mystic River), Matthew Sarna (Rocky Gorge), Spencer Sarver (San Francisco Golden Gate), Chase Schor Haskin (Atlantis Rugby), Robbie Shaw (PRO Rugby – Ohio Aviators), Dallen Stanford (Tiger Rugby), Zach Strom (Glendale Raptors), Kevin Swiryn (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Zack Test (Men’s Eagles Sevens), Roman Wilson (Glenfield – NZ).
The Maccabi USA Rugby program would like to thank Aspen Ruggerfest for a fantastic weekend, as well as the Aspen community and the Aspen High School for their superb training facilities.