SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – Going into this weekend’s tournament, the second leg of the Womens Sevens World Series (WSWS) we made an astute note in our analysis and preview piece: We stated that “…while they (the USA Women’s 7s program) are trying to find themselves the countries below them are closing the gap and the ones above them are widening it.” The performance by powerhouses New Zealand, Australia and Canada as well as fast rising France and Fiji in Sao Paulo, proved to be prophetic. Let’s review:
USA Women’s Eagles 7s:
The Eagles had a tournament that could be described as mediocre, at best. It was another frustrating performance, which will have fans and pundits gnashing their teeth. They were done no favors by playing their opening match against the unstoppable force that is the New Zealand Black Fern 7s. The USA tried to make the Ferns work for their victory and they did but the scoreline still reflected the gulf in class, as it went 35-12 in New Zealand’s favor. That loss was followed by a hard fought tight loss in a very winnable game to France, 14-12. The USA was finally able to celebrate a victory when they handily defeated, Spain 26-7.
On Day 2, the Eagles found themselves in the Cup playoffs thanks to the WSWS only having 12 teams and the USA having a better point differential than two other teams that finished third in their group. They drew New Zealand again and lost to the Black Ferns for the second time in just as many days, 28-17. They took the confidence boost from having a closer loss to the Black Ferns and shutout the tournament hosts, Brazil, 19-0. This got them a ticket to the plate final and a chance to get some redemption. Unfortunately, they came up against an England side that wanted the hardware more. Despite a scoreless first half, England didn’t wilt in the heat as the game wore on and were able to win 14-5.
Not sure if the USA is progressing around that dogged learning curve, but this tournament was filled with more tough lessons about how far they are of from being top competitors on the tour.
Sao Paulo 7s Review:
We know we have said that in the Women’s Sevens World Series there were 4 teams that you can always count on to be in the hunt for the title: New Zealand, Australia, Canada and England. A key element is of course that they are the most well-funded programs in programs in Women’s 7s. There
In Sao Paulo, as they did in Dubai, the Kiwis and Aussies were undefeated in pool play. The same can be said for the cup playoffs, as each team was able to dig deep after being pushed hard by the competition. In another epic final, New Zealand managed to once again win the wrestling match and take the cup.
France took advantage of their pool and good form and beyond their loss in the cup semifinals to the Kiwis, looked like they could do something special. They were brought down back to earth when Canada shut them down to take the 3rd place trophy.
Meanwhile, England played poorly on Day 1 but made it into the cup quarterfinals, where unfortunately for them they ran into Australia in the Cup knockout round.
Fiji have been a force to be reckoned with on the men’s circuit but are developing their women’s program now. Operating on a slender budget, they are proving that heart, effort and gusto can overcome a lot, as they defeated Spain to win the Bowl.
Final standings were
Cup: New Zealand
The next leg will be in Atlanta in March. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.