BOULDER, Colo. – The Women's Eagles Sevens team is making final preparations for round two of the IRB Women's Sevens Series, to be held this Friday and Saturday. The team departs tomorrow for Houston to play in front of a home crowd at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
"It's always important at every tournament to do well," said Head Coach Ric Suggitt said. "On your home turf, it's magnified by a thousand times."
Suggitt recalls Ryan Carlyle and Kimber Rozier into the team that finished with four points and the Bowl at the Dubai Sevens, the first round of the Series. Emilie Bydwell and Teena Mastrangelo will make way after strong performances in Dubai. Vanesha McGee captains the Eagles. Bui Baravilala is out with a groin injury.
The Eagles begin pool play against Canada, before facing off against South Africa and Argentina, respectively. Against sixth ranked Canada, the women have lost in their last two meetings, making it a highly anticipated matchup for the Eagles.
"They're the rival, you have to beat them," said Suggitt. "We lost to them by a try in the final in Las Vegas last year, and we lost to them on the last play of the game in Amsterdam. We're in the same ballpark, we just haven't put the finish to it."
Against South Africa, the Eagles look to show up with an edge after beating them in the cup final 24-0 in Guangzhou, China, this past October.
"They play a unique style of sevens and they have some big, strong, fast girls, so it should be an exciting game again," said Suggitt.
The Eagles have not faced Argentina in recent years, but the South American team joins the series with a new head coach, Santiago Gómez Cora. Cora is a former Pumas Sevens star and all-time leading try-scorer in IRB Sevens Rugby.
The Houston Sevens tournament is part of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series, and gives the Women Eagles their first chance to play in an IRB series event on home soil. With a lot of firsts, the team is well aware of the collective anticipation.
"The players understand the time and effort everyone has put in, from USA Rugby to the local organizers and the Texas community," commented Suggitt. "With a chance to finally play on home soil they also want to perform well for family and friends – it's a big opportunity for us both competitively and as a part of the American Rugby community."
Universal Sports will broadcast live from the Houston Sevens on February 2 from 1-8 P.M. CT, which will include all of the Day 2 matches. Also keep up with all of the action with live updates from Houston on Twitter by following @USAEaglesRugby.
USA Women's Eagles Sevens | Houston Sevens
Vanesha McGee (Captain)
Eagles Schedule | Houston Sevens
vs. Canada – 2:54 P.M. CT Friday, February 1
vs. South Africa – 5:16 P.M. CT Friday, February 1
vs. Argentina – 8:00 P.M. CT Friday, February 1