Israel rugby on track for Euros, says Feld


Jon Feld believes Israel can build on their recent series against London Pumas at the European Sevens Championships in Croatia.

The travelling Pumas team came away with a credible 2-2 draw against Israel’s national rugby team and Development XV at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv.

In a tour organised by Project Israel and the Israel Rugby Union, Israel won the opening sevens matches before the Pumas claimed the final one as well as the 15-a-side match.

Two enthralling days of rugby saw the hosts initially taken aback by some heavy tackling from the Pumas, an invitation team drawn from London and UK clubs.

Israel showed skill and speed in winning the first two 7’s games by the narrow margin of a single try in each game. The winning tries were scored by the speedy winger Hagit Salamon.

The Pumas bounced right back in the final 7s game to overpower Israel 19-5. Richmond prop Laura Kapo scored another fine try to take her tally to three in three games, with classy Llanelli Puma Rebecca de Filippo registering two conversions.

In the 15's game played the next day in front of a large crowd, the Pumas ran out convincing winners against Israel Development XV, by 57-7. Hampstead's Alexis Bloom touched down for the Pumas, and there were also tries from winger Anja Grant (3) and captain Jo Emslie (2). The best tries came from Sylvia Chan and Sian Williams, who both ghosted past several tacklers to touchdown after quick ball down the Pumas back-line drew the Israeli defence.

Israel, who were ultimately outclassed in the 15's but nonetheless resisted well, scored a well-constructed consolation try in the final minutes of this match. Their best players were Daniela Gofberg and Bronwen Rosenblum-Manning, who play for the Jerusalem Lionesses and Haifa rugby clubs respectively.

Pumas manager and coach Jon Feld said: "Ofer Hamburger, the Israel Development Coach and former national men's team prop forward, can take great credit in the performance of his team and can build from this."

"All in all it was a wonderful week for both the hosts and the visiting London team, as a full itinerary plus the hospitality of the home union left us with some very special memories. Israeli and British players socialised together of their own choice during the entire tour, which speaks for itself.

"In the light of the recent World Masters Judo Championships, where the Israel team got consistently booed, it was a pleasure to see the Israel national flag and the Flag of St George fluttering side by side as the players posed for post-match photos together.

"The Friendship Trophy was awarded by the IRU to Ellisha Dee the Pumas co coach. More Project Israel sports tours are on the agenda but funding is needed.

"It’s regarded by many, after only three months in existence, as the best idea out there to combat the anti-Israel boycott campaign."

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