GUANGZHOU, China – Ric Suggitt’s Women’s Eagles Sevens are one day away from kicking off the fourth round of the 2013-14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series – Guangzhou Women’s Sevens.
In what seems to be a common occurrence during the course of the Series, the weather in China has been wet. The Men’s Eagles Sevens almost had a match postponed last weekend at Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. The forecast for Guangzhou has a 20-percent chance of rain for Saturday, when the Eagles face Canada, Russia, and France, respectively, in their Pool C matches.
Sunday’s forecast is not as hopeful, however, with Guangzhou expected to see rain throughout the day and night. At last year’s Guangzhou Women’s Sevens, play was suspended before the finals on day two.
The rainy forecast for Sunday means the Eagles need to ensure a good seeding for the knockout round with multiple wins during their pool matches.
“We have three tough, physical games on day one and I believe we have the correct mixture of mental toughness, speed and knowledge to come out of the blocks on the first day,” Suggitt said.
“So far, we have had a great week. The team is on task and has demonstrated excellent focus. The practices have been short and sharp.”
Among the Eagles named for the fourth stop of the Series are Lauren Doyle, Victoria Folayan, Kelly Griffin, Dana Meschisi, Deven Owsiany, Jillion Potter, Rebekah Siebach, and Amelia Villines, who have all featured in the previous three tournaments in Dubai, Atlanta and Sao Paulo.
Suggitt has selected a different captain for his team at each tournament, with Villines carrying the responsibility in Guangzhou.
“Amelia has done a good job as captain this tour,” Suggitt said. “Developing the leadership roles has been a smooth transition from what we have done in the past. Sharing the responsibilities has lessened the stress applied to just one person.”
The Eagles now have experience on their side with the eight previously-mentioned players suiting up for at least a fourth time. There are three new faces, however, with Alev Kelter and Elana Meyers set to earn their first sevens caps in Guangzhou.
Meyers is coming off of a whirlwind two months after winning a silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the two-woman bobsleigh event. Once she returned home, she was offered a one-month contract at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Kelter was also given a contract at the OTC at the end of February. Suggitt found out about the University of Wisconsin alumna from her former high school teammate, Lorrie Clifford. The Chugiak High School (Alaska) teammates will share the same jersey once again, this time in China.
“Alev and Elana are fitting in well and have added a sense of accountability on and off of the field,” Suggitt said. “Both have become quick learners and students of the game of sevens.”
Women’s Eagles captain Shaina Turley is also in Guangzhou, though it will not be her first sevens cap. The Marine, who has been training at the OTC as part of the World-Class Athlete Program, appeared in the 2009 Dubai Sevens tournament. The Eagles lost in the Plate Final in Dubai that year.
“Shaina has been a well-needed addition and, again, with her experience, she has boosted the confidence in the overall team plan,” Suggitt said.
In what was the third stop of the inaugural IRB Women’s World Series last year, the Eagles finished fourth with a hard-fought, 17-5, loss to Canada in the Third Place Match in Guangzhou. They had defeated Fiji and China in pool play, with one loss to England, before beating Australia in the Cup Quarterfinal. Eventual tournament champion New Zealand dealt the Eagles a 24-12 loss in the Cup Semifinal to set up the North American Final.
The Eagles kick off Guangzhou Women’s Sevens against Canada Friday, April 4, at 10:00 P.M. ET. Watch the Eagles live on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series website and follow live match updates with @USARugby on Twitter.
Women's Eagles Sevens | Guangzhou Sevens Pool C
v Canada - Friday, April 4 - 10:00 P.M. ET
v Russia - Saturday, April 5 - 1:06 A.M. ET
v France - Saturday, April 5 - 3:50 A.M. ET