The USA Women’s 22-19 loss in the plate final of the Clermont 7s to host country France placed the USA in 6th place in the tournament. Unless miracles happen in the next two months, this is the likely place the USA ladies will find themselves on August 9th in Rio. Against any well coached, experienced international side the Eagle women struggled. England eclipsed them 26-7 in pool play and then again 21-12 in the cup quarterfinal. The USA’s 2 victories in the tournament (31-0 vs Kenya, 14-12 vs Fiji) were over sides with considerably less experience in top level international tournament play, and the narrow victory over Fiji was a sad indicator that the USA is losing ground against emerging sides. The nation of Fiji has a population about the same as the city of Jacksonville.
Canada defeated series winning Australia in the cup final. Australia, who had already claimed the first ever tournament series championship for an Australian team with their quarterfinal (35-0) victory over Spain, battered through arch-rival New Zealand 14-5 in the semi-final. Canada had a relatively easy semi-final after a few easy try opportunities in their 31-10 win over England. It is hard to believe that beyond these 4 teams (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, & England/Great Britain) there is another team that will be competitive for medals in Rio. This tournament was also a good reminder that initial seeding and resulting placement in the knock-out round will be crucial to making it to the gold medal match with the right condition and attitude to carry the day.
As mentioned when I started these articles on the London 7s and Clermont 7s, this is the end of DeepSouthRugby.net’s coverage of international 7s. As I look around media centers, I see that not only is the sport for the young, but the reporting on the sport seems to also be for the youngish. Recently as we struggled to convince USA Rugby that we were deserving of press accreditation to events, we were told that media services (like the game itself) is becoming more professional. DSR.net has never accepted advertisement. Fran & I began the website to fill a gap for providing information and record the history of a rugby union that has since been dissolved into the True South Union. Our extension of this mission to cover the USA’s national teams’ achievements in international play will hopefully continue with articles on the USA Women and Men’s 15s and their path to World Cup success while continuing our coverage of rugby in the region once described as the Deep South (Louisiana. Mississippi, Alabama, & the Florida Panhandle).
In my previous article on Day 1 of Clermont 7s, “Horror & Hope”, I took some comments by assistant coach Peter Steinberg out of context and with a bit of tongue-in-cheek tried to make the USA’s poor performance on Day 1 seem like a coach’s sly strategy. Over the next few days I will transcribe the very thoughtful and sincere answers that Peter gave to my questions as I think they give a nice vision of where USA women’s rugby finds itself today and where it hopes to be by 2020.