LANGFORD, CANADA – The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series heads into the second leg of its only back-to-back legs. The third leg in Atlanta last weekend and this weekend’s leg in Langford are the only time that stops are held on consecutive weekends. The Mens’ series has this throughout the entire series, as two legs are held consecutively before a break – then another two legs. Before you think the Women should complain, their series was cut from six legs to four before public outcry got them a fifth leg added back, so let us at least be glad that this is no longer the final leg. From the USA Womens’ prospective, they are building momentum and need to keep it going if they have any hopes of keeping the good vibes going as the Rio Olympics loom. Let’s see how @USAWomens7s team looks going in to this leg and take a stab at predicting the tournament.
Atlanta was a fantastic start for new USA coach Head Coach Richie Walker, who has to build on that for the rest of the tour and Rio. Once again, take a look at that three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the women’s program and its new head coach:
Team changes (+/-): There are 5.75 changes to the USA squad from Atlanta. That is high amount for such a short turnaround but some were forced. Meya Bizer and Lauren Doyle were lost due to injury with last week’s team captain and legend, Jill Potter, also out due to suspected injury. The new captain is Bui Baravilala (third straight tournament with a new captain). Carmen Farmer, cross-over athlete Emily Azevedo and Christy Ringgenberg are the named replacements for those three players. The return from injury for Victoria “Vix” Folayan and Joanne Fa’avesi sees them come back into the squad in place of Kate Zackary and Kristen Thomas.
We aren’t in Atlanta anymore: Apologies to the Wizard of Oz but the point has to be made. Playing well in front of your home fans is great; 5 wins, 1 loss, plus winning the plate. Now you are on the road; there is less support when things get hard. It always a special feeling to play for your country and even more special to play in front of your countrymen. USA doesn’t have the latter this time, so the ladies will have to dig deeper to find their resolve.
Fitness & Endurance: I wouldn’t dare to question the fitness of these athletes. However, this is the only back-to-back portion in the series. Knocks from the week before won’t have time to heal, so players have to play through it. They have to fight through the fatigue and still remember their fundamentals. We will see how the players do but it is a concern for all coaches.
Optimist’s View: The team has another solid performance and wins the plate again.
Pessimist’s View: They have a good first day but the fatigue catches up with them and they go winless on the second day.
My View: They will likely finish 6th. They have the ability to qualify for the cup playoffs but beyond that I am not sure and just feel they expended too much energy last weekend trying to have a great start under Walker at home.
Atlanta 7s Predictions:
The king of the mountain and likely winner of this year’s series will be Australia. They have won each of the previous three legs. This year though, it is about more than winning the series; it is about setting the table for Rio. You can expect teams like Canada and New Zealand to put pressure on the Aussies and don’t rule out some of the teams lower down the leader board. Everyone wants to stop an Aussie clean sweep of all the tournaments but only a precious few are in a position to do so.
Here are the Pool Previews:
Australia should have no problem topping this group. The key challenge will be the dog fight for second between Russia and France, we lean toward Russia. That unfortunately leaves Brazil to bring up the rear.
After last weekend when USA topped a pool featuring them and New Zealand, you would think we would pick ‘Murika. However, the Kiwis have such pedigree and history that they made the finals last weekend. The Black Ferns are our picks to top the group, followed by the USA. Fijiana will come in third with a struggling Spain finishing last.
Canada will top this group and embrace the home field advantage. England will give the Canadians fits but will fall short and claim second. Ireland will win the tussle for third against Japan, to the surprise of many.
Final standings will be:
Third: New Zealand
That is it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Ronan Nelson, Kyle Phillips and Declan Yeats, respectively
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.