Friday, February 19, 2016

Brazil 7s Preview: Eagles Look To Rebound

The Women Eagles 7s are now much months away from the Olympics in Rio de Janiero. This weekend they will have one of the best opportunities yet to prepare for the tournament as they head to Brazil for the Sao Paulo 7s. While it's not Rio the team will get the experience of playing rugby in the country against some of the top teams. After a very disappointing finish in Dubai the Eagles need a big tournament in Brazil to gain some sort of momentum heading into the summer.

Head coach Jules McCoy made a number of changes going into Dubai, including playing a number of players in new positions. In the end those changes impacted the way the team played. It may work for the team in the long-run but there is no question at the moment that the Eagles need to find their rhythm and find it fast. If they can't do that in Brazil then they will only have three tournaments left to right the ship before Rio.

Take the jump to read more.
The Team

Six new players have come into the team from the Dubai 7s. Lauren Doyle and Richelle Stephens are out with injury which combined with a lingering injury to Vix Folayan will rob the team of two of their more experienced players. Coming into the team, or returning, including Bui Baravilala and Ryan Carlyle. Both have been on the Series before and are looking to push for the Olympics. Rachel Griendling and Ashley Perry were standouts with the ARPTC in the summer and are very familiar with McCoy.

The team is going to miss the speed and power of Folayan and Doyle. Carlyle might make some of that up and Griendling and Perry could be breakout stars. That said it's going to be up to players like Jillion Potter and Jessica Javelet to fill the void.

Squad: Jillion Potter, Ryan Carlyle, Bui Baravilala, Kelly Griffin, Jessica Javelet, Leyla Kelter, Nana Fa'avesi, Kristen Thomas, Rachel Griendling, Ashley Perry, Naya Tapper, Megan Bonny

The Opponents

New Zealand (9:50 a.m. et/6:50 a.m. pt): First up for the Eagles is New Zealand. It was a bit surprising that they didn't win in Dubai (they finished third) but still will be a huge task for the Eagles. They are beatable and the Eagles have come close in the past but it will be tough. If the Eagles can keep the score close it will be a win.

Russia (12:12 p.m. et/9:12 a.m. pt): The Russians finished runners-up in Dubai and are looking good early. Russia takes the Olympics seriously and with a dry run in Brazil expect them to put everything into this tournament. Russia thrives off possession. Keep the ball and you beat them.

Spain (3:18 p.m. et/12:18 p.m. pt): This is a match the Eagles must win if they want to get out of the pool. Spain finished in eighth in Dubai and were probably lucky to be there. Not only will the U.S. have to win this match but they'll probably need to beat Russia.

The Takeaway

There is no beating around the bush that Dubai was a disastrous tournament for the Eagles. McCoy's changes on the surface seem to have the team going backward. Sao Paulo is going to be a referendum on whether those changes are working. There are only three official tournaments left after this so there isn't much room for experimentation. We hope the changes pay off and the team does better this year. 

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