Throwback Thursday: Breezing through Scotland
Ireland will host the eighth Women's Rugby World Cup this August, 26 years since the USA Women's Eagles won the first world championship in 1991. Each Thursday leading up to the tournament, USA Rugby will be taking a look at the history of the WRWC and the Eagles' performances through the years. This month, the focus is on the 1994 WRWC in Scotland.
Against an England side that had played its best XV in all four games, the highly-skilled and -drilled Women's Eagles wore down their '91 World Cup Final opponent with a ferocious pack and a back line that could smell the opposition's try line from its own. In the '93 Canada Cup, the runner-up found a new Eagles team was not without its faults.
While Head Coach Franck Boivert and Assistant Coach Joe Kelly upped their focus on the national team's set-piece work, the U.S. was to make an even greater impact on the women's game than it had in dismantling pro-Euro favoritism in Cardiff.
"I came into the national team with very strong beliefs," Boivert recalled. "My analysis was that women's rugby, at the time, was not that popular, and the only way to make it more popular and attractive to supporters was to play a flamboyant game; attack from everywhere and so on.
"What motivated and guided me was to make sure, every time the Eagles play, everyone would be on their feet, cheering. There would be no dull moment."
The Eagles did more than that when they arrived in Scotland in April of 1994, recording a combined score line of 308-0 through three matches at the World Cup. The event again faced sponsorship difficulties but, as in '91, the attitudes of the athletes and willingness of the locals to assist traveling teams made the second WRWC a success. Pool A defeats of Sweden and Japan preceded a Quarterfinal matchup with Ireland for the U.S., again not a favorite in its World Cup defense.
Longtime Eagles Jennifer Crawford, Patty Jervey, and Candi Orsini were just a few '91 veterans that enjoyed statistical successes in Boivert's system of play. Not afraid to play with the ball, the Eagles were quickly compared to the dynastic and fun-to-watch Brazilian national team in the sport of soccer. Their triumphs were ballyhooed around the venues as other teams - including England - failed to surpass the century mark in scoring throughout the tournament.
"The players were just outstanding in terms of athletic abilities, flair, inspiration, talent; just phenomenal," Boivert said. "We had established players that were really above the cut. It was just a matter of making sure they were doing the right thing at the right time at game time. It was enjoyable to coach.
"Those scores didn't help us at all in the end, though. It was hiding the main issue we had: in the scrum."
Just one game away from a return trip to the Final, the Eagles were matched up with Wales. England, on the other side of the bracket, was to face France in a second consecutive Semifinal matchup.
USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 1994