Pumas end Israel tour with second win

Pumas end Israel tour with second win

Project-Israel sponsored London Pumas conclude tour with victory.

Andrew Sherwood is the Jewish News Sport and Community Editor

The London Pumas ended their Project Israel tour with a 38-0 win over Israel.

London Pumas Tour of Israel – Match 2
London Pumas 38 Israel 0

Kibbutz Israel
Saturday, 4 June

Played under the intense heat in Kibbutz Israel, the game was stopped at half-time with the Pumas 38-0 up.

The match was once again a very competitive affair with the Israelis showing a marked improvement from the prior Saturday match at Wingate.

This time the Israel set scrum held firmer against the Pumas primary and secondary shoves, while the aggression and offensive line speed of the Israelis generally impressed, with captain Limor Lev making some penetrating runs. Experienced Thurrock centre Sophie Tyler had to cover tackle Lev more than once.

The Pumas ball handling was decent, as to be expected. Quick ball down the line from the back row to the wingers caused Israel problems time and again with Thurrock centre Tyler scoring several times.

Israel have to work on their defensive positioning and defensive line speed.

Pumas standouts of the day were Wasps player Kanyinsola A Afi and Richmond’s Davinia Monteiro. For Israel, Limor Lev and the tenacious Jerusalem Lionesses player Daniela Goffberg stood out.The Pumas tries were scored by Tyler (3), player-manager Ellisha Dee, hooker Anabelle Whitecross and winger Jodie Rettie.

Coach Jon Feld said: “The Pumas team, whilst an Invitation team from several different RFU leagues, have actually played together for a couple of years now, in both 7’s and 15’s. My teams, Salisbury Pumas and Ironsides Pumas, have been playing together against top sides all the season just gone.

“The Richmond and Thurrock contingent have both enjoyed trophy winning seasons, providing regular game time for all.

“The Israel team at the moment can only train and only has this annual series versus the Pumas as competitive game time. They have no games because the surrounding countries are at war and don’t play rugby anyway.

PUMAS23“Given those circumstances, to put up such a fight against a team such as the Pumas is quite a remarkable feat. It’s a huge testament to Ofer Hamburger the Israel coach for one. It’s also indicative that there is a definite talent pool in Israel for 15’s – that’s very obvious looking at this match.

“Moves are afoot to make an application for the Israel 15’s team to compete in the RFU Griffin Development Cup for 2016/17. The RFU Constituent Body has been informed and early indications may be that they might support the initiative, given the amazing hospitality shown to the touring Pumas by the Israelis and the Israel Rugby Union.”

Ellisha Dee, London Pumas Tour player-manager & Richmond 1st team prop forward, said: “Well what can I say about the Project Israel London Pumas Tour 2016. It was even better then last year!

“The Israel team has improved massively. Their attack and defence was more aggressive and a never give up attitude is what they brought to the game.

“I really enjoyed playing and look forward to many more years of competing against them. Hopefully in the future the Israelis will be able to tour over here in the UK (funding permitted) which would be amazing for their development in the game!

“The Pumas development players (from Salisbury Pumas and Ironsides Pumas) have improved so much from the last time I saw them play. Hopefully they learnt a lot more playing with players like us. Being awarded the Friendship Cup by Israel coach Ofer Hamburger.was an amazing moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

PUMAS22“Working with people like Ofer, Reut Ben David and Liat Geller of the IRU has made this project grow and without them in partnerships with me and Jon Feld these tours would never workout.”

Bristol Women’s Rugby’s Sylvia ‘Superchan’ Chan said: “I’m so grateful for the Israeli hospitality as they met us at the airport and showed us some amazing sights. They went the extra mile in ensuring I was okay when I ended up in hospital for dehydration and were always willing to answer our questions. It is great to see how the Israeli team’s rugby has improved from last year especially when they barely have any opportunity to play together against other sides.

“They gave us good pressure in the games as well as some good tackles and would benefit from more opportunities to play more rugby games against different teams. It is great to have an extended rugby family in Israel. Having been lucky enough to play rugby in the UK for over 10 years it’s really empowering to see women’s rugby develop in Israel and I hope our tour continues to help them expand the game in Israel.”

Ironside Pumas lock forward Christina Papadopoulou said: “I have had a absolutely fabulous time here in Israel with the rest of the Pumas!

“Israeli people have surprised me massively by their hospitality and friendliness, I am grateful for both of our amazing tour guides who were kind enough to show us around their beautiful country.

The whole Israeli team was very welcoming and we could see a huge improvement in the second game. For Ironsides Pumas the whole tour was a great experience and honour to be able to play with and learn from great players and each one of us individually understands more about the game.

“So thanks to all the managers and sponsors for this once in a lifetime opportunity!

London Pumas No 2 Anabelle Whitecross, who plays for Salisbury Pumas, said: “Israel is definitely not what I expected. Tel Aviv is beautiful and Nazareth was unreal. Ofer Hamburger was a lovely guide on Tuesday and the girls had a great day going to different places and learning a little bit of history. All has been rather interesting so far. Looking forward to Pride tomorrow.

“The Israeli team were good. According to the other Puma girls who came last year, they have massively stepped their game up. Despite the score, they put up a good fight and did their very best. The commitment and communication between their team members was great. Some great tackles and fast steppers amongst their squad and they were unbelievably friendly throughout our time here.

“I will never forget this Tour.”

Laura Kapo, London Pumas centre and chair of Richmond Women’s rugby, said: “I can’t fault the hospitality of the Israeli team and coaches who have looked after us so well since arriving. They ensured we got to our hotel and checked in, helped us find our way around and also took the time out from their routines to escort us around the amazing sites in their country. We have had guided tours around Nazareth, Haifa and Jerusalem all of which have been fantastic.

“The first game on Wednesday was exciting to see how Team Israel has developed and their structure and understanding of the game has come on loads since our last visit. Pumas were dominant in the opening game even with players playing out of position, but our individual play worked well. The flow was lost a little when we started to try and follow a game plan allowing Team Israel to strike back, albeit too late in the game.

“The second game at Kibbutz Yizrael was even better and it’s clear the Israelis have improved from one game to the next. We had to contain them and hit them on the counter as some of their runs were hurting us.

“It’s been another fantastic day and another fantastic Project Israel Tour.”

Pumas captain Jo Emslie added: “As Captain of the London Pumas team for the second time, I cannot put into words how much Project Israel has touched my heart, to be a part of this team is amazing. Here in the UK we have core values for our clubs and the Israel team are exactly what the essence of rugby is about Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. For the past two tours I have seen the Israel team absorb what we do like a giant sponge their coaching staff and team moral is something many UK clubs I have seen struggle with.

“The 7s and 15s squad for Israel are simply the kindest and most respectful sport women I have had the pleasure to play against and work with.

“What Jon Collins is working to achieve here is groundbreaking, they have the ability and passion to compete against teams like England, Australia and New Zealand if they continue to work hard as they do. We take a very strong team to The Friendship Cup every year and we do not go easy. The first game we won over 60-0, at no point did any member of the opposition loose focus or drop their head which as anyone in any sport knows with a score like that your team could fall apart. But they didn’t, they came back three days later better, they hit harder, communicated better and the scoreline reflected that.

“Without the companies that sponsor us to go out to this amazing country with its fascinating history and stunning scenery and be a part of Project Israel it would be tough for those girls who are giving 100 percent to learn rugby.

“I hope that together we can grow Project Israel and build the Israel teams into the world arena where they deserve to be.”

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