CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The Women’s Eagles Sevens will welcome Brazil’s women’s sevens team to the Olympic Training Center this weekend for a week-long, high performance training environment.
The host of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games will arrive in California Saturday in preparation for the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series 2014-15 qualifying tournament in Hong Kong. Set for Shek Kip Mei Stadium Sep. 12-13, the tournament will see Brazil, Argentina, China, Fiji, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa compete for four open core team spots.
The Eagles, Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Russia, and Spain will be joined by the tournament’s four semifinalists on the Series, which begins Dec. 4-5 at Emirates Dubai Rugby 7s.
“They’ve put together a very competitive team, they’ve been to a lot of the stops on the circuit, and now they’re coming here to get ready to go to Hong Kong and battle for a spot to be on the circuit again,” Eagles Head Coach Ric Suggitt said. “They do have some exciting players and they are learning how to play sevens with an exciting style.”
The Eagles and Brazil will play three sevens matches Monday, Sept. 1, two controlled scrimmages Tuesday, Sept. 2, and another three games Thursday, Sept. 4.
In nine Series stops since the inaugural season began in late 2012, Brazil’s highest finish was at Guangzhou Women’s Sevens in 2013. The South Americans went 1-1-1 in pool play in China with a win against Tunisia, a draw with Netherlands, and a shutout loss to Cup-winner New Zealand. Brazil earned a rematch with Netherlands in the Plate Semifinal – a losing effort – and finished eighth thanks to a close, 7-5 loss to Australia. Brazil also won the Houston Sevens Bowl in 2013.
While the upcoming Series will determine four qualifiers for Rio 2016, Brazil has already qualified its men’s and women’s teams as the host nation.
“The host union gets to go to the Olympics, and that’s great,” Suggitt said. “But they might get in as a legitimate qualifier rather than just being the host team.
“It’s going to be a good test for us with our new players and we’ll help them prepare for Hong Kong.”
Suggitt will welcome Jillion Potter back to the Residency fold following her two-month tour with the Women’s Eagles as they prepared for and competed in the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in Paris.
Other familiar faces, like Lauren Doyle, Vix Folayan, Kelly Griffin, and Rebekah Siebach, have embraced newer additions to the OTC.
Pennsylvania State University winger Bianca Dalal helped the Nittany Lions finish third at the 2013 USA Rugby Women’s Division I College 7s National Championship and started at wing for the Semifinal and Final of the 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Women’s College National Championship, which Penn State won.
Western Oregon University basketball player Melissa Fowler and Benedictine College soccer player Kate Zackary are also new to the OTC, though Fowler has a connection with Lorrie Clifford, who also played basketball at Western Oregon.
“Alev [Kelter] came out of hockey, Lorrie came out of basketball; you can come from any sport,” Suggitt said. “One of the best players the U.S. ever had was Dan Lyle, though they never called him a crossover athlete. He played football and went on to have a great rugby career.
“Maybe they’re not first-choice rugby players, but they’re the ones who were chosen to be here. They should make the best of this opportunity and they’re doing that.”
Hear Suggitt discuss the history of "crossover athletes" in American rugby:
After hosting Brazil, the Eagles will travel to Alaska for training and community outreach programs. More information on the trip will be released Friday.
Women's Eagles Sevens | Olympic Training Center Residency