Baravilala, Fa’avesi return to Eagles for second Series leg

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The Women's Eagles Sevens will bring three new caps to Brazil Women's Sevens, the second leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Scheduled to kick off from São Paulo Saturday, Feb. 20, Brazil Women's Sevens will be played nearly three months from the opening round in Dubai, where the Eagles finished 11th. Sixth-ranked Canada visited the Olympic Training Center and offered Head Coach Jules McCoy's team two scrimmages to replicate the international level of play in the interim, and Japan visits this week.

Familiar to McCoy at her previous position with USA Rugby National Development Academy American Rugby Pro Training Center, Rachel Griendling and Ashley Perry will make their debuts in Brazil, as will University of North Carolina's Naya Tapper. Ryan Carlyle also returns to the squad having finished runner-up to McCoy's ARPTC team at last year's USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships, and won a USA Rugby Women's Club National Championship with Seattle Saracens that same year.

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Lauren Doyle and Richelle Stephens were unavailable for selection due to injury, but McCoy will get her first opportunity to unleash Bui Baravilala on the Eagles' opponents, which include New Zealand, Russia, and Spain on day one. Additionally, Jillion Potter will travel to her second Series leg following a victorious battle with cancer in 2015, and Joanne Fa'avesi has recovered from an injury that kept her out of Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens in December.

"We are trying to build depth in our pool by adding some new caps," the head coach said. "We are moving players around some to assess their versatility under pressure in case of future injury, preparing for the best and the worst situations going forward.

"A healthy Bui gives us experience in the midfield. She is a talented, passionate player, and she is excited to get back on the circuit. Joanne is a physical player and quite versatile - she has been working very hard to get back into the starting 12 and is getting her reward."

In their first action on the circuit under McCoy, the Eagles won just one match from five as they failed to qualify for the Cup Quarterfinals. Kristen Thomas led the way with six of the team's 11 tries as the head coach switched players' positions to test different combinations against the world's top opponents.

At the OTC in January, scrimmages with Canada allowed McCoy to do the same in a controlled environment, and athletes like Tapper stood out against the likes of 2014 World Rugby Player of the Year Magali Harvey. While the teams split results in the scrimmages, improved performances in new patterns of play showed the players are getting closer to a standard that bears wins.

"We have made progress but won't be satisfied until our outcomes improve," McCoy said. "The players are more comfortable in the new systems, but now they look to personalize the approach by making the new schemes their own.

"Our team identity, in the end, will be created by the players themselves. I'm excited to see what they come up with."

The second leg of the Series from Arena Barueri will be streamed live on World Rugby's website, with the U.S.'s first match against reigning Series champion New Zealand kicking off at 9:50 a.m. ET Saturday, Feb. 20.

Women's Eagles Sevens | Brazil Women's Sevens

Bui Baravilala

Megan Bonny

Ryan Carlyle

Joanne Fa'avesi

Rachel Griendling

Kelly Griffin

Jessica Javelet

Alev Kelter

Ashley Perry

Jillion Potter

Naya Tapper

Kristen Thomas

Women's Eagles Sevens | Non-traveling reserves

Meya Bizer

Cheta Emba

Jane Paar

Women's Eagles Sevens | Brazil Women's Sevens

v. New Zealand - Saturday, Feb. 20 @ 9:50 a.m. ET

v. Russia - Saturday, Feb. 20 @ 12:12 p.m. ET

v. Spain - Saturday, Feb. 20 @ 3:18 p.m. ET