LANGFORD, CANADA – Sometimes it feels good to be right, sometimes it doesn’t . In our analysis and preview of the 2015/2016 HSBC Womens Sevens World Series (WSWS) leg in Langford this past weekend, I noted 3 key issues, that would play a role in how the USA finished. The changing of 5 players and team captain was discussed along with the extra fatigue of a second leg and how unlike the previous leg there would be no home-field advantage for the USA. The piece stated that “…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.” The USA did worse than that and finished seventh. It was a brutal and ugly tournament. Let’s review:
USA Women’s Eagles 7s:
New @USAWomens7s head coach Richie Walker had a tournament to forget. The USA’s first opponent this tournament was the same one in Atlanta. They faced a feisty but defeat-able Spain, however this time Spain had more steel than the Eagles expected. Factor in the the 3 issues and Spain won a hard fought match 10-7. The USA’s next opponent was another difficult but beatable opponent in Fiji. This time the USA tightened up their game and put together a solid performance to win 24-12. They then had the displeasure of playing the reigning series champion New Zealand Black Fern 7s. At the time of the match, passage to the playoffs was not guaranteed so the USA need the win. The USA was looking to follow up their shock victory over the Black Fern 7s in Atlanta with another big win. It was not to be as the Black Ferns stifled the the USA attack and made enough of the key plays to win, final score 19-7 to the Black Fern 7s.
On Day 2, the Eagles found themselves in the Cup playoffs. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be in the playoffs for long. The USA drew England, a very fired up and different England from previous tournaments. The English played with a passion and a clinical nature that the USA was not prepared for, winning 29-7. After that game the USA had to lick their wounds and face Spain once again in the Plate semi-finals. In another tight affair with neither side yielding an inch the difference would come down to try scoring. The two side scored the same number of tries, two, but the location of the touch downs turned out to be the difference with Spain converting both of theirs and the USA converting only one, final score 14-12 to Spain. The loss relegated the USA to the seventh place game against Russia, who were having their own struggles after a good tournament in Atlanta. Considering the way the teams performed on the pitch going into the match, Russia were the favorites but the USA surprised them to win 15-10.
This second tournament for coach Walker was brutal. The large turnover of players could be and should be questioned. However, I get an errie feeling that with only three tournaments until Rio, the coach is making a sacrifice. The USA cannot win this year’s series nor be relegated, so he is focusing on Rio and using the tournaments to help him sort out his roster shortlist and decide who makes the plane to Rio.
New Zealand’s title drought in the 2015/2016 HSBC Womens Sevens World Series continues. This time it wasn’t the Aussies that denied them but rather the team that normally gives them fits in 15s, England. There were some other surprises along the way to in this crazy tournament too.
In Langford, it was a very strange first day. Powerhouses New Zealand, Australia and hosts Canada went through the day undefeated. The telltale sign was the poor form of the USA and the positive form England and France. The Cup quarterfinals saw England and France upset the favored North American duo as the Antipodeans sailed into the semi-finals. France fell in the semi-finals but England stayed in good form and upset both the powerhouses to win the Cup. Unfortunately for the Kiwis, their only loss all weekend was in the final.
Australia salvaged their tournament with a win over France to claim third place. After the stinging lose to France in the Cup quarters, Canada regrouped and put together some quality performances especially in the Plate final against Spain to win the Plate. After losing their first two match to NZ and the USA, Fiji went on to win the Bowl by defeating Japan and Brazil rather handily.
Final standings were
Second: New Zealand
The next leg will be in Langford, Canada this upcoming weekend. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.