London Women's Sevens preview: four points, 6,000 miles from Rio

The Women's Eagles Sevens have completed four of the six legs of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series and are just four points from Olympic qualification. Preview the team's upcoming tournaments in London and Amsterdam this week with usarugby.org.

At the end of the day Saturday, May 23, the Women’s Eagles Sevens will know if they have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games or if they will have to seek other means of qualifying.

With two tournaments left in the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, the U.S. sits just four points from fourth, the final automatic-qualifying position. It took a Cup Final appearance at Atlanta 7s to close the gap between the Eagles and fourth-place France, but an England side that won consecutive Plates to open the season took third at Canada Women’s Sevens. The 16 points gained in the third-place match at Westhills Stadium was enough for England to tie the U.S. on points in fifth.

Unlike New Zealand, which tops the standings with 80 points from four Cup victories, and Russia, which trails the fifth-place nations by two points, England and France have not had as much of an affect on the Eagles’ campaign.

So far, the U.S. has an 0-5 record against New Zealand and an unbeaten, 5-0 record against Russia. Outside of those two opponents, only Canada has faced the Eagles more than twice, and two of those matchups were in the last tournament north of the border.

The Eagles have had to endure the reigning Series champion in three of the first four pools this year, and still managed to reach the Cup Quarterfinals each time. However, the team has only won one.

Canada’s shutout victory in the Cup Quarterfinal at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens sent the Eagles on a path to the Seventh-Place Match, where they beat Russia for the second time that weekend. In São Paulo, the U.S. finished third in Pool A behind New Zealand and France, setting up a rematch – and loss – with New Zealand in the Cup Quarterfinal.

QUATRIÈME OU MIEUX

Head Coach Ric Suggitt called for top-four appearances at each tournament this season, and the Eagles delivered at home at Atlanta 7s. The team started pool play with two wins to qualify for the Cup round before a drubbing at the hands of New Zealand. The Eagles went into the Quarterfinal with confidence, however, and knocked off second-ranked Australia. They reached the Cup Final and finished second to grab 18 points.

The Eagles went 2-1 in pool play in Canada, with the only loss coming at the hands of the home side. The Sunday Quarterfinal pitted the fourth-place and fifth-place nations against each other, though the match did not play out the way it was billed.

“It wasn’t an easy game for France,” Suggitt defended. “We didn’t let them win.”

With a win the Eagles could have jumped into fourth, but France slowed down the play and forced turnovers to come away victorious. The tournament was not over for the Eagles, who rebounded to win the Plate.

“The real plus side of it is, yeah, we took a real butt-kicking against France in a couple of ways, then turned around and played some really good rugby against Australia and Canada,” Suggitt said. “That’s the way I look at the France game, and that’s the way you have to look at it in the heat of the moment.

“To get more direct: we played right into the way France wants to play. We went straight right into the breakdowns, we didn’t move the ball away from the contact area into space – where we’re usually strong – we made poor decisions with the ball in hand, and we executed poorly when it was time to catch the ball.

“You’ve got to give credit to France. They made us play like that. They got our girls to play their game.”

Rather than France, it was England that capitalized on the Eagles’ drop from the Cup competition with a win in the Third-Place Match. Now, six teams are competing for three qualification spots.


Check usarugby.org this week for more previews of London Women's Sevens.

Women's Eagles Sevens | London Women's Sevens

1. Megan Bonny

2. Kelly Griffin

3. Kathryn Johnson

4. Alev Kelter

5. Bui Baravilala

6. Lauren Doyle

7. Victoria Folayan

8. Rebekah Siebach

9. Irene Gardner

10. Kate Zackary

11. Hannah Lopez

12. Kristen Thomas

Women's Eagles Sevens | Non-Traveling Reserves

Lorrie Clifford

Hannah Lockwood

Women's Eagles Sevens | London Women's Sevens

v China - Friday, May 15 - 8:06 a.m. ET

v Fiji - Friday, May 15 - 10:50 a.m. ET

v Australia - Friday, May 15 - 1:34 p.m. ET