Women’s #Sydney7s: @USAWomens7s Analysis, Rain Man Tournament Picks

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Captain's photo prior to the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series in Sydney on 30 January, 2019. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby, Rugby_Wrap_Up

Captain’s photo prior to the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Sydney on 30 January, 2019. Photo credit: Mike LeeKLC fotos for World Rugby

SYDNEY, AUS – The 2018/2019 HSBC Women’s Sevens Series heads into its first leg of the new year and the third leg of the season this weekend. Sydney is the second and final leg that the women and men share, which means it will be one helluva party. Let’s see how @USAWomens7s team looks going in to this leg and take a stab at predicting the tournament.

The Chris Brown as USA Head Coach era continuesand so far so good. He had a top-4 mandate which equals Olympic qualification. A third of the way in it looks like it is possible but there is still work to be done. Once again, we take a look at the three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the women’s program.

1) Team changes (+/-): There are 4 changes to the USA squad from Dubai. The list of players out are Abby Gustaitis, Kristen Thomas, Ashlee Byrge and Stephanie Rovetti. Byrge had her first tournament in Dubai and the tournament before in Glendale, Brown welcomed 3 new players. Brown once welcomes two younger players in Kasey McCravey and Kristi Kirshe. Joining them will be veteran Jordan Gray-Matyas and coming back from 15s duty will be Amelia “Maya” Bizer.

2) Chemistry: Those are a lot of roster changes and with the ladies being off for so long in between tours That is gonna bring about a lot of concern regarding the chemistry. It is easy to look good on the training ground but the bullets go live, that is a whole other challenge. Will the passing be crisp and the time of runs be what is needed to win? We will see.

3) When the challenge comes: The USA are in a group they should have no problem qualifying for the cup round from. The question is what happens in the cup playoffs when serious questions are being asked. They were able to answer them in Glendale, not so much in Dubai. What will happen when they face one of the other top sides?

Optimist’s View: I think the Eagles will accomplish their goal for this tournament and be top 4. By top 4, I mean finish 4th.

Pessimist’s View: They will stumble in the quarter-final and finish 6th.

My View: I think I will split the difference and have them finish 5th.

Sydney 7s:
The Black Ferns are looking to wrap up the series with this leg. Having won the first 2 legs, they have a toe hold on the series. It will take some doing from either Australia or Canada to catch them now, but it starts with someone else winning this leg.

Here are the Pool Previews:

Pool A:
New Zealand
England
France
Papua New Guinea

New Zealand should have no problem topping this group. They will likely go 3-0. The real battle will be for second place between England and France. Any pool with New Zealand, the head to head match will likely be the decider for second and third in the pool as they will both lose to the Kiwis and both beat the non-core team. The smart money says England on this one. PNG will bring up the rear as most invites usually do.

Pool B:
Canada
Russia
Fiji
Ireland

Even the banner makes me want to go there.

Toughest group to call. It is is hard to argue that teams one through three in this pool will all make the cup playoffs. As to what order and which three, well that is gonna be a tough guess. Canada based on pedigree and reputation are the gonna place first. Russia have a solid history and track record of success so them placing second is within the realm of possible. Placing third team will be tricky because Ireland have shown better form as they seek to become a force in 7s. However, Fiji are an established presence and I can’t see them falling out easily to Ireland. My heart says Fiji finish third, Ireland last.

Pool C:
Australia
USA
Spain
China

This is another competitive pool as Australia and the USA are expected to battle it out for pool winner. Based on last time out the edge goes to Australia, although the USA’s miracle win in Glendale means don’t count them out. Spain will likely finish third and China forth. The key will be point differential for Spain, if they have any hope of sneaking in as the second best 3rd place side.

Final standings will be:

Cup: Australia
Second: New Zealand
Third: Canada
Fifth: England
Challenge Trophy: Spain

That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below.

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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.

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Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.

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