SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series second leg kicks off in Sao Paulo this weekend. Since the last leg in Dubai, World Rugby has added an extra stop to give the ladies 5 legs. However, the USA women still have little room for error if they want a top four finish, because winning it is now out of the question. Let’s analyze the @USAWomens7s program and take a stab at predicting the tournament.
In case anyone was not aware, in Dubai the Eagles won one game the whole tournament. That one win was on the last game on the second day and it helped them save face by avoiding a dead-last finish. On the back of that performance, here are three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the women’s program and its head coach Jules McCoy:
Coach on the Hot Seat: McCoy’s appointment was greeted with delight but after Dubai alarm bells are ringing. It is nothing against her because her accomplishments as a player and, more importantly as coach, made her a top-notch candidate for the position. However, coaches are judged on results and the immediate results are disconcerting. It will be interesting to see if Dubai was a growing pain or a sign of things to come. Will McCoy double down on her scheme or relax and make big changes?
TeamChanges (+/-): A possible sign of the big changes to come; McCoy changed over half the squad. That’s a lot for 7s side not decimated by injuries. Maybe in the first tournament McCoy was seeing how some of her troops responded to live action. These six new players will be under the same pressure to prove they aren’t training ground heroines and produce in the cauldron of the Sevens Series.
Chemistry: Changing over half the squad will drastically effect cohesion. To be on the pitch in 7s and know that half (or more) of your teammates weren’t with you last round means passing becomes a trust exercise. It will be a test to see if they have done enough right in training for success.
Cynical View: They have a poor first day getting to know each other and turn it on in the second day and finish 8th.
My view: They will likely finish 7th. I believe in coach McCoy but after the first round, and with so many squad changes, it is tough to see a huge turnaround performance.
Going Forward: The USA has a likelihood of going 1-2, then losing the first match on day two and finishing with another 1-2 record, going 2-4 overall.
The first tournament of the tour was months ago and that makes it hard to be on form. However, if we combine each nation’s traditional abilities, along with pedigree factored in with form… it becomes clearer.
Here are the Pool Previews:
Australia and Canada will slug it out to top this pool. It is tough to pick who will win, so I made a blind guess and picked Australia. Third place will easily go to Fiji and Ireland will bring up the rear.
New Zealand will top this group with ease. It will then be a three-way dogfight for second. It is likely that Russia will have their act together more and claim second. Third place will be a battle between the USA and Spain, and we are hopeful the USA will have it together enough to emerge victorious.
England should have no problem topping this group. France has been much improved this season and should easily win second. Japan are on an upward trajectory and should win third, with the host Brazil finishing last in the group.
Final standings will be:
Second: New Zealand
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