"An American in Paris"
Tara M. Flanagan (lock) is a retired Women’s Eagle who played in the 1991 and 1994 IRB Women's Rugby World Cup for the U.S.A., and a proud member of the Eagles’ inaugural Women's World Cup Championship team in 1991.
Retired after the 1994 Women's Rugby World Cup to start her legal career, she became a lawyer, is now a state court Judge, and will be sharing insights and perspectives from week two of the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in Paris.
At Marcoussis, France, 60 minutes from kick-off of the USA v. Australia match:
Today 's match pits No. 7 tournament ranking (U.S.) versus No. 6 (Australia) match. Some say the WRWC needs quarter finals - and when I see that Australia currently has a better "ranking" in the tournament than the Eagles, I have to agree.
Today's match is important as an Eagles win moves the U.S. up in hopes of a top-six finish, which means an automatic berth for the next World Cup.
U.S.A. Coach Pete Steinberg graciously took a few minutes before team warm-ups to talk with me. Meanwhile, the crowd is growing and Eagle supporters are starting to fill the stands.
Coach Steinberg reports that the team is in good shape physically, due to an innovative recovery/wellness program implemented, and that the players’ spirits are high. The team is mindful that the Australians - fullback in particular - have a strong boot, and knowing that, the Eagle plan includes NOT get turned around, chasing down kicks.
Some Australian fans I talked to earlier this afternoon, here to support their daughter/wife, spoke with some trepidation about facing the Eagles. They admit it's not much of a "rivalry" as the teams don't have a history of playing each other much. (Maybe two prior World Cup matches and some tests ‘Down Under’ in ’97 - with the U.S. winning all but one). But they remarked how much "bigger" the U.S.A. were, and how five Aussie players have stitches in their heads. I told them that the Eagles had no qualms about knocking out a kangaroo or koala bear, so watch out!
Kick-off soon, stay with us for our next update!