PHILADELPHIA, PA- The fourth leg of the World Rugby Women’s 7s World Series begins this weekend in Langford, Canada. Though the USA team no longer has a home advantage, the momentum that started in Atlanta will hopefully continue.
Last month in Atlanta, the US Women’s team finished second in their tournament, winning against Russia and Australia and losing against the impressive New Zealand women. Now, with it seeming like the US finally has a chance at qualifying for the Olympics by placing in the top four, the question is: will they be able to keep up this impressive level of play?
As we have done for all tournament legs, let’s look at the Top 3 Issues facing the side as they play host to the world.
Squad Changes (-/+): Eagles’ Melissa Fowler has regained her spot. Joining Fowler is Irene Gardner, who is making her first appearance with the Eagles since last year’s Atlanta 7s match. Their spots were previously filled by Jessica Javelet and Hannah Lopez.
Although Gardner has waited a while to join the Eagles, her previous accomplishments in the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens and the 2013 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Champions Berkeley All Blues had not gone unnoticed. Head coach Suggitt hopes this squad change will exploit the partnership of Gardner and prop, Kelly Griffin. In addition to the success against Atlanta, Suggitt anticipates that the added experience of older players will add confidence to the otherwise young team.
Why A Squad Change?: Yes, always getting better is a process. Continuous improvement and all, is respected. However, why not reward the hot squad. Why not keep the same squad together and show some faith in the 12 that got into the cup final.
Continuing Momentum: So now the count is 12 WSWS tournaments with 2 cup finals. But who cares about those numbers! The eagles just finished the last tournament in second place. Can they continue and prove its not a fluke!
Optimist View: It is likely that with the continual momentum and playing close to home the USA could continue the momentum and finish 4th.
Cynic View: Atlanta may be a fluke. The USA is in a tough pool and will likely fall back to their previous position. They will likely finish 6th.
RWU View: Because of the squad change, it’s even harder to predict. The team’s decision making leaves something to be desired, and they no longer have a home field advantage to rely on throughout the rest of the series. While it looks like there is a secure place for them in the top 7, that doesn’t guarantee enough what the Eagles have their eyes set on: the 2016 Olympics. We see a 5th place finish on the cards.
So follow them on Twitter and tweet your encouraging words to the eagles: @USAWomens7s
Women’s Eagles Sevens | Canada Women’s Sevens
v South Africa – Saturday, April 18 – 3:28 p.m. ET
v Russia – Saturday, April 18 – 6:38 p.m. ET
v Canada – Saturday, April 18 – 9:50 p.m. ET
You can Follow the U.S. in Langford on Twitter with @USARugby and watch the Series on Universal Sports.
Canada 7s: The fourth leg of the series is the penultimate leg. It will make matter more intense as the jocking for automatic qualification continues. Will USA repeat their success in Canada? New Zealand has been the biggest threat, and Canada is excitedly waiting their turn to play on their own turf.
With New Zealand’s impressive performance in the previous rounds of the tournament, it is obvious that New Zealand will be Cup Winner, adding another 20 points to their score. Though Fiji will likely give England a challenge, England will come in second. Fiji will likely finish third after beating Spain, putting Spain in last for this tournament.
Though missing key player Emilee Cherry, Australia will again beat France, this time in first place. France will fight valiantly, and win matches against Brazil and China seeing them finish in second place. China will likely keep up their poor tournament performance, finishing in last, placing Brazil in third place.
The game between the USA team and the Canadian team will be a close one, but if the United States keeps up the momentum it had from the last tournament they can pull out a win, especially considering that they won against Canada earlier in the series. This will place Canada second. Though Russia will put up a good fight, they will likely only win against South Africa who will finish in last.
Final standings will be
Second: New Zealand
All in all, it still seems possible, though unlikely, that the USA team will finish in the final four and qualify for the Olympics.
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