SAN FRANCISCO, USA – The Rugby World Cup 7s has finally arrived. It has been a long wait since it was announced but thankfully a relatively short time since the end of the World Sevens Series. This year also included the Commonwealth games, which provided an extra tournament for the former British colonial nations.
The RWC7s is in San Francisco, California and boy are American rugby fans excited for this event. Speaking of American rugby, the USA Womens’ team will be under the spotlight as they look to replicate some of the great performances they have had on home legs of the sevens series as the host nation of this world cup. Let’s see how @USAWomens7s team looks going in to the tournament and take a stab at predicting the winner.
USA Head Coach Richie Walker‘s squad had an up and down season. They had one poor tournament, one great one and a few mixed ones. They will need to bring their A game in each RWC game to stand a chance of making the final. Once again, as we did during the world sevens series, we take a look at the three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the women’s program:
Team changes (+/-): There are 2 changes to the USA squad from the one that finished in France in earlier this year. The biggest loss is that of Alev Kelter, the leading points scorer of the 2017/18 Series. Kelter was initially added to the team list but then removed due to her being unable to recover from injury. Kelter is replaced by Kelsi Stockert, who hasn’t made a tournament since the disaster in Dubai to start the 2017/18 season. The other player change is Kate Zackary for Kayla Canett. This was a fight for the last position on the roster which went to Zackary so play time will still likely be limited.
Homecooking: Being at home can add pressure but the Eagles program, especially men and women’s sevens, have a history of performing better in front of their home fans. If the USA is to make it to the final, they will need the fans to be loud and to draw strength and energy from those fans.
Experience: This team is heavy on experience and it seems to be what head coach Walker is looking for. There are players that are young and one player who made her debut only earlier this year. However, coach Walker looks to be going with his vets to make the difference in the RWC.
My View: I am skipping the optimist v pessimist view for the World Cup, as the tournament structure is different. I expect the USA to make it to the semifinals. From there, I am not sure. To find out more, read below and look at my prediction for the whole tournament.
Women RWC 7s Predictions:
The Rugby World Cup is unlike the Sevens Series in that it doesn’t have pool play. It starts out in straight knockout fashion. The losers of the Round of 16 game go in the Challenge bracket and then fight out to win the Challenge Trophy, which is essentially ninth place and then battle to see who finishes 9-16.
The winners of the Round of 16 are in the Champions bracket and they will of course battle it out from the winner of the World Cup and the places on down, from 1-8. So I will look at the Round of 16 matches, and predict the winners from there then project the winners going forward. You can find a profile of each of the 16 teams on the Rugby World Cup 7s site.
Here are the Previews:
Round 16 fixture list – (Ranking) Country
(1) New Zealand v (16) Mexico
(2) Australia v (15) Papua New Guinea
(3) Canada v (14) Brazil
(4) Russia v (13) South Africa
(5) USA v (12) China
(6) France v (11) Japan
(7) Fiji v (10) Spain
(8) England v (9) Ireland
I see all the higher seeds from 1-6 winning their games. Spain can be a bit prickly and tough to beat with Fiji very capable of a lapse. Also Ireland and England are very close and it would be just like the Irish to upset the English. One of these two games will be an upset, I know it, but I can’t figure out which one or both. Having flipped a coin, I will go with both.
Projected Champions Bracket Quarter-final fixture list – (Ranking) Country
(1) New Zealand v (9) Ireland
(2) Australia v (10) Spain
(3) Canada v (6) France
(4) Russia v (5) USA
New Zealand should be able to dispatch Ireland easily and so should Australia against Spain. Canada has had some consistency issues here and there and France has grown in leaps and bounds this season so this may be another upset special. However, I can’t keep picking upsets so I will go with the Canadians in this one. The USA and Russia will be tight as they have battled all series long. However, with the USA at home the Eagles get the edge.
Projected Champions Bracket Semifinal fixture list – (Ranking) Country
(1) New Zealand v (5) USA
(2) Australia v (3) Canada
The Black Ferns have lost to the USA during the 2017-2018 Series so the USA won’t fear them especially being at home. It is hard to go against the Eagles but I see them coming up short in this one. I see Australia doing their part against Canada to set-up the most anticipated final in RWC7s history.
Rather then pick out the final and third place match, let me tease you guys a bit and leave you my prediction for the final standings the Women’s RWC 7s. You can put a question in the comments if you want to know how I arrived at this decision.
Final standings will be:
Second: New Zealand
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.