The Runner Sports

USA Women’s Rugby: USA vs Canada – CAN-AM, A World Rugby Test

The USA Women’s Rugby run for the 2017 Rugby World Cup is fast approaching and our Eagles are going to Ireland in August as they attempt to recapture the World Cup they haven’t won since 1991, and it’s going to be a tall order. Since winning the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, the USA Women’s team have posted a record of 23-26 and have a current six-game losing streak dating back to 2014. The last match they won was a 23-20 victory over Australia in the last World Cup. The road to victory, however, has already begun and the next crucial step on that road comes on March 28 at the Chula Vista Training Complex where the Eagles take on Canada in game one of the CAN-AM Series, a World Rugby ranking test series.

The USA is currently ranked 7th in the world out of 49 ranked nations; Team Canada is 3rd behind New Zealand (1) and England (2). This will be an enormous challenge for the Eagles but a much-needed one as they are matched in the World Cup pool with Spain (8), Italy (9), and England. That will be the Eagles’ first match against the quickly developing Spanish XVs squad and they haven’t played Italy since a 34-20 victory over them in 2012. England has been a regular opponent over the years and the ladies have not fared well against them; the most recent matchup during last year’s Super Series resulted in a 39-13 thumping.

I’ll dive into the Eagles’ chances of taking home the World Cup closer to the tournament; as for the CAN-AM series, winning it will be a challenge. The Canadian women are a dominant squad, despite the union’s financial woes and current poor showing by the men’s program. Canada is 3-0 against the Eagles, beating the USA Women rather easily in two of their last three matches, and while the USA Women’s team doesn’t get many opportunities to train and play together, they are improving. The CAN-AM series will be a valid test of their ability to compete on the World Cup stage and maybe make it into the 5th place semi-final or better.

Rosters for the CAN-AM have not yet been announced but with the next Women’s 7s tournament not until April 22, I would anticipate many of the 7s players to be available as they prepare for World Cup play.

The CAN-AM series will conclude on April 1 when the two sides meet again, broadcasted live on The Rugby Channel. The day will also showcase three USA Rugby women’s club matches.

Prior to the CAN-AM decider, Pacific South DI Belmont Shore will take on the 2016 Women’s Premier League Champion San Diego Surfers. There are also two Women’s Pacific South DII matches scheduled with the Fullerton Wolfpack matching up against San Fernando Valley Rugby and Ventura County Lady Outlaws taking the pitch to face Pasadena Rugby.

Fullerton versus San Fernando

Fullerton (1W-1D-1L) versus San Fernando Valley (0-0-4) matches two struggling squads looking to right the ship for the spring season. Fullerton has a staunch defense which played a big part in their 15-5 victory over 2nd place Tucson. San Fernando Valley, on the other hand, have struggled since their close 20-27 loss to Las Vegas. Anticipate a competitive match with Fullerton coming away victorious.

Ventura County versus Pasadena

Ventura County is 3-0-2 while Pasadena is 2-0-2; both have dominated opposition in their wins but only Pasadena has remained close in their losses. Both have lost to table toppers Las Vegas and Tucson. Pasadena’s well-rounded blend of attack and defense will likely carry them to victory giving them a strong hold on 3rd place.

Belmont Shore versus San Diego

The big club match of the day is Belmont Shore stepping up to play WPL Champions San Diego Surfers. Belmont Shore is 1-0-2 in the early season with their lone victory coming against top of the table Tempe. Facing off against San Diego, Belmont Shore will be hoping the Eagles’ heavy Surfers squad will have several players selected for the CAN-AM Series; players like back row players Elizabeth Trujillo and Hannah Lockwood as well as front rowers Molly Kinsella, Kate Zackary, Samantha Pankey, and Eagle captain Hope Rodgers. The Surfers’ front row will likely be hit hard by Eagles selection giving Belmont Shore the edge in pack experience but they’re still facing the WPL Champions.

USA versus Canada

The USA Women’s Rugby squad has talent but Team Canada has talent and experience. It’s unlikely the Eagles will mount a challenge during game one but, as is the Eagles way, the second game may be a different story. Until rosters are announced analysis would be pure speculation and I speculate the Canadians have the edge overall and should win the aggregate but I predict the Eagles will put up a fight and if they can carry the momentum from their 7s campaign the US could prove me wrong.

Women’s rugby does not get the coverage the men’s game receives but The Rugby Channel, who carries WPL matches, will give the ladies a chance to shine on Saturday, April 1. If you’re a rugby fan you’d be a fool not to watch.

April 1 Schedule: Times are Eastern

2 pm: Fullerton v San Fernando Valley

2 pm: Belmont Shore v San Diego

4 pm: Pasadena v Ventura County

6 pm: USA v Canada



-By Jason Graves