The Runner Sports

Rugby World Cup Match Report: Hope Remains Despite Loss To Spirited English Side

Wearing braids and bruises, the ladies of the USA Eagles rugby team took to the pitch Thursday in their third match of the Women’s Rugby World Cup at UCD Billings Park in Dublin, Ireland. Successfully navigating the challenges of both Italy and Spain, this third match of Pool B against England represented the stiffest competition the Eagles would face in pool play as they took on the top ranked women’s team in the world.  Despite a squad teeming with talent, the Eagles were no match for a relentless English offense that took the initiative to score five tries in the first half alone and ultimately secure a victory over the Americans, 47-26.

The match was largely dominated by the Red Roses, who laid bare the flaws in their opponent’s defense with some slick running that put the Americans on their back foot. First on the score sheet for the English was outside center Emily Scarratt, who chased down a teammate’s grubber kick, just out of reach of an American defender, to score. That would be the only try for Scarratt but she would continue to be instrumental in her team’s success with 10 points from her pinpoint conversion kicking. Things went from bad to worse for the Eagles when in the 16th-minute American hooker Kathryn Augustyn was sent off for foul play and the English were awarded a penalty try. The English rugby juggernaut was just getting started and two more tries from English flanker Marlie Packer put the ladies in white up 33 points at the half. The only show of life from the Eagles came through a lone score in the 32nd-minute from Eagle Kate Zachary showing the first real sustained offensive against a stalwart English defense.

With two tries early in the second half, the English offense resembled a runaway train with hapless American defenders providing the rails. Tries from Amy Hardy and Amy Cokayne seemed to put the game out of reach for the Eagles, but the ladies in blue were not done yet. In the 51st minute, American full back Cheta Emba scored for the Eagles providing a glimmer of hope and in the 62nd-minute fleet-footed winger Naya Tapper eluded the outstretched arms of her opponent to dot down yet again for the Americans. This sleeping giant, however, seemed to have slept too long, and an additional score in the 81st minute from Eagle speedster Kris Thomas signified only a last gasp from an American team drowning in English tries.

The good news for the Eagles is that their bonus point score in extra time puts them in contention for a semifinal spot dependant on the outcome of the Ireland vs France match to conclude pool play this evening. Only time will tell if the American ladies will graduate to semifinal play, a prospect they will undoubtedly be anticipating as the evening wears on.

Eric Sweigert

Eric Sweigert

Currently a teacher-athlete up in Northern California, I was first introduced to rugby in college (go Aggies) and haven't looked back. Nowadays you can find me teaching American History and writing about a sport that provided many good memories and more than enough stitches.
Eric Sweigert