DUBAI, UAE – The 2016-17 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series kicked off in Dubai in the middle of the night, NYC time. So forgive me for not keeping you current beyond the screenshot of results below. The Dubai 7s is one of three 7s stops that includes both the men’s and women’s circuit. With the women’s tour being expanded to 6 stops, it will be competitive; there will be little room for error. As we did in years past, we’ll look at the Eagle 7s and take a stab at predicting each tournament. Further, we will try to provide equal coverage for the Women and Men. Ronan Nelson has a Preview of the USA Womens Eagles Sevens season and I previewed the entire Women’s Sevens Series. Luke Bienstock has the Men covered. With that, here’s my Dubai 7s Women’s Preview & Predictions.
With Ronan “The Wolfman” Nelson on top of things, I’ll steer clear of rehashing his points in detail. What I will do is take a look at the three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the @USAWomens7s program and its head coach Richie Walker.
Full Season Under Walker: Coach Walker got a full off-season with this team. He was put in a tough position last season, taking over the program midway through the season. As seasoned and experienced a coach as Walker is, that is a tough position for any coach. He not only had to take over mid-season, he had to lead them into Rio. Now with a proper prep time we will see how he does with this extra time and practice.
Will The New Talent Come of Age: There are loads of players from college, club and even high school. The step-up to joining the big show is huge and loads of talented players have struggled to make that jump. It will be interesting to watch.
Pressure: It is something that dogged the Eagles all last season. It became an issue in Rio too. That ability to compete is not a problem for the USA. It is when they are competing and the match is tight, can they be the side that doesn’t make the mistake that changes the game? Can they be the one that capitalizes?
Optimist’s View: The team hits the ground running and have a quarterfinal upset to finish in the top 4.
Cynic’s View: Likely to finish 6. They just make too many mistake as the wrong time.
My View: They will likely finish 5th. They will repeat the Rio adventure of playing well but not well enough.
Going Forward: The USA has a likelihood of going 2-1, then losing the first match on day two and finishing with a 2-1 record on the second day.
This is the first tournament of the tour and with no prior form to pick from, we must base it on last year’s performance. However, each nations traditional abilities and pedigree will also be factored into things.
Here are my Pool Previews:
Australia will top the group without breaking a sweat. The patriot in us hopes that USA gives the Aussies a run for their money. The Eagles will take second place and coming in third will be Russia. South Africa will be outclassed in this group and finish fourth.
New Zealand will top this group and set a tone for the tournament. France has grown a lot and should take second. If the France aren’t on their game, they could be up set by Fiji who are a vastly improved side. Ireland should be proud of being a core side. However, in this tournament they may not have a shot against any of the other teams in this pool.
Canada will fight it out with England for the pool winner tag. It is impossible to tell who will win between the two of them. Spain could finish third but with their pension for upsets they may be ready to push on and pull a surprise on a top tier side. Newly promoted Brazil will be the cannon fodder in the group.
Final standings will be:
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.