DUBAI, UAE – The 2018/2019 HSBC Women’s Sevens Series heads into its second leg of the season this weekend. Dubai has traditionally been the kickoff tournament but not this year, Glendale, Colorado, was. Let’s see how @USAWomens7s team looks going in to this leg and take a stab at predicting the tournament.
The Chris Brown as USA Head Coach era began on a somewhat positive note as the USA women finished second in Glendale. However, the performance was far from flawless and it will take a far better performance to ensure another top four finish. Once again, we take a look at the three main issues that stand out going into this tournament for the women’s program.
1) Team changes (+/-): There are 2 changes to the USA squad from Glendale. Veteran Jordan Gray makes way for fellow veteran Joanne Fa’avesi and debutante Ashlee Byrge replaces Glendale debutante Lauren Thunen. two seems like a satisfactory number and though it is not like for like, the exuberance of youth and the battle test veteran balance is the same and that is a positive.
2) Road Warriors: The USA performing well when they host is great but there are only 6 legs and of the core teams, 6 of them don’t have the honor of playing at home, Dubai is neutral, of course. However, teams like England and especially New Zealand are difficult to beat in every tournament, the same can’t be said of the USA and it needs to be said. To change that the USA needs to be more of a force in every leg.
3) Good Day One: A missed conversion was the only reason the USA qualified on points differential to play in the cup playoff round on Day 2. It can’t be that close again, the USA won’t always be that lucky. The USA need to win two games on day one, preferably the first two, so they can properly rotate the squad in the third game. These kinds of things are what top 4 teams do and the USA must do.
Optimist’s View: I think the new coach bump will continue and they will finish top 4.
Pessimist’s View: They will be in consistent and finish 6th.
My View: I think I will split the difference and have them finish 5th.
Judging by Glendale alone would be dangerous as the teams have only had one tournament and you don’t know what is a sign of things to come and what is a fluke. So last season’s performance and program pedigree will aid me here as I give my best guess as to who will win it all in Dubai.
Here are the Pool Previews:
New Zealand should have no problem topping this group. They will likely go 3-0. The real battle will be for second place between Russia’s and Ireland. Like in Glendale and any pool with New Zealand, the head to head match will likely be the decider for second and third in the pool as they will both lose to the Kiwis and both beat the non-core team. The smart money says Russia edges Ireland. Kenya will bring up the rear as most invites usually do.
Toughest group to call. It is is hard to argue that teams one through three in this pool will all make the cup playoffs. As to what order, well that is gonna be a tough guess. Considering their shock loss to the USA, it is likely that Australia will look to play with a new fire and finish first. England beat the USA the first time and around and I am gonna bet that they do it again. I will be pleasantly surprised if the USA win. The USA will be third and , China, will finish dead last as the group’s whipping girl.
This is another competitive pool as Canada and France are expected to battle it out for pool winner. Based on last year, the edge goes to Canada. Fiji are capable of an upset but it just seems like France will be in better form and secure second. Fiji and Spain will finish third and fourth, respectively as Spain will put up a fight but come up short in their matches, as is their custom.
Final standings will be:
Second: New Zealand
Challenge Trophy: Fiji
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.