SYDNEY, AUS – The 2016-17 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series kicked off its second leg in Sydney around midnight, NYC time, so forgive me for not keeping you current. The #Sydney7s is one of three 7s stops that includes both the men’s and women’s circuits. It’s the second consecutive stop for the women that they have to share the spotlight with the men. With the women’s tour being expanded to 6 tourneys though, this is a small price to pay and may improve awareness of the their circuit. Today we’ll look at the Eagle 7s and take a stab at predicting each tournament. With that, here’s my Sydney 7s Women’s Preview & Predictions.
Player Changes (+/-): The USA made 4 changes. It starts with bringing back Rio Olympics captain Kelly Griffin in addition to including Kristen Thomas for the first time since a leg injury sustained in France last May. Former Penn State Nittany Lion and Women’s Rugby World Cup veteran Hope Rogers will have her series debut along with Sarah Buonopane of the Northeast ODA.
Bounce Back?: The USA just had their worst finish ever in Series history and finished second to last in Dubai. Can they bounce back and prove that Dubai was a fluke?
Falling Behind: The rapid improvements of Spain and Ireland and the continued struggles of the USA have now raised a question. Are we witnessing a changing of the guard? Is the USA falling behind while teams that were beneath them over take them?
Optimist’s View: The team manages to shock people and lose a close match in the quarter-finals.
Cynic’s View: Semi-finals in the Challenge Trophy bracket is the best they can do.
My View: They will likely win the Challenge Trophy, as they have a poor day one but a good day 2. (I was wrong. They beat England and Spain but lost to Russia!)
Going Forward: The USA has a likelihood f going 1-2, then winning out on the second day.
This is the first tournament of the tour and with no prior form to pick from, we must base it on last year’s performance. However, each nations traditional abilities and pedigree will also be factored into things.
Here are my Pool Previews:
Papua New Guinea
New Zealand will top the group will top this group if they can fight off Canada who will be pushing them very hard. France will cruise to third while Papua New Guinea brings up the rear.
Australia will top this group and set a tone for the tournament. Ireland have improved as a side but they haven’t improved well enough to challenge to be a group winner. Fiji who are a vastly improved side could battle Ireland for second. Brazil will likely be cannon fodder in this group.
England will easily get the pool winner tag. It is impossible to tell who will win between Spain and Russia as both sides have gone from strength to strength. One of the two will finish second and the other third. The USA will be last as they learn to gel and find some form.
Final standings will be:
Cup: New Zealand
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.