SYDNEY, AUS – The 2017-18 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series second leg will be in Sydney. It is the second of three 7s venues that include both the Men’s and Women’s circuit. The clear logic from World Rugby is they hope the shared locale will lead to greater turnout, so the women can play in front of the larger crowds their talent and skill warrant. As we always do, we’ll look at the Eagle 7s and then [blindly?] attempt to predict each tournament. With that, here’s my Sydney 7s Women’s Preview & Predictions.
Repeat Performance? Going 4-2 and finishing second sounds great. Now do it again! Prove it wasn’t a fluke or you just got “lucky.” It is easy to get swept away in a great previous leg on the tour, but if the Eagles wish to garner respectability and become a top-4 side, they must do well in Sizzlin’ Sydney. If top-4 is the goal, then there can’t be a drop of intensity, so that will be a challenge.
Player Changes (+/-): Three player changes have been made. On the outside looking in are Sara Parson, Kelsi Stockert and Megan Foster and coming in are Cheta Emba, Natalie Kosko and Hope Rogers. Most people would say after a good performance, you shouldn’t change anything. But there is also the premise that to keep your edge, you make the players keep theirs. And making changes like this pushes players to be better, as no one is safe.
Hat Trick?: The New Zealand Black Ferns, reigning circuit champs, have only had 2 loses in their last 42 matches. Both of those loses have come at the hands of Team USA. The Kiwis are in USA’s pool this tournament again, so the USA will have a chance for third victory in pool play and in all likelihood, in the knockout round too… if the Americans perform as expected.
Optimist’s View: The team goes undefeated in pool play, getting a hat trick… but after starting Day 2 hot, they fall in back-to-back matches against the top-3 sides and finish 4th.
Cynic’s View: They make the quarterfinals but lose their first match and bounce back will to win the Plate Final and finish 5th.
My View: The Eagles have a likelihood of going 2-1 on Day then 1-2 on Day 2. That win, however, will be in the quarterfinal and propel them to 4th place.
After the respective performances in Dubai, it is tough to tell which is a new trend – like the USA – or just a bad day at the office, as per England. So, this preview will mix traditional abilities, pedigree and form in making predictions.
Here are my Pool Previews:
Papua New Guinea
Australia will barely break a sweat topping this group… It will be a tussle for second place between Spain and France but I am putting my francs on the French… Papua New Guinea will be no match for anyone in this group and finish fourth.
New Zealand and the USA will battle for first place in this group. The key? What team can avoid losing to England, who although not as powerful as they once were, are dangerous… And who wins the Ferns v Eagles head to head, of course? Japan have made strides but they will struggle to get a win in this pool.
Canada will win this pool going away… It is impossible to tell who will finish second between Russia and Fiji. My gut says “pick Fiji,” so I will go with that. I love the growth of the Irish game but it’s tough to see them getting a win in this group.
Final standings will be:
Third: New Zealand