The Runner Sports

World Cup Performance Offers New Insights Into State Of Women’s Eagles Program

With the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror, it’s possible to gain some fresh insights on the state of women’s Rugby in the US and apply some of the lessons learned from America’s participation in what is currently the biggest women’s rugby competition in the world. With a record of 2-3, the Eagles started off the tournament strong but met a string of defeats despite a squad bursting with ability.

The Women’s Eagles branch of USA Rugby is in possession of some impressive raw talent, especially in the forward pack and winger/full back positions. Current Eagle prop Hope Rodgers put on some impressive displays against the French and again against the Spanish during pool play. Her contributions against the French are additionally impressive considering the 25-year-old recovered from an ACL surgery less than six months prior.

Related: American Hopes At Bronze Finish Swallowed Up By Punishing French Defense

In a recent interview with USA rugby, head coach Pete Steinberg reflected on the Eagle backline and asserted that during the WRWC it was the Americans that had the most impressive back three of the entire competition; referring of course the fleet-footed Cheta Emba, Kris Thomas, and Naya Tapper. Along with stellar defense and keeping their composure under the high-ball, these ladies gained over 1,200 carrying meters during their respective World Cup performances against some imposing defense. With the search to fill the vacancy left by Steinberg heating up, only time will tell if the new coach will be able to harness the raw potential of a young and eager Eagles team.

In addition to the exhibition of talent shown in the WRWC 2017, the Eagles also proved that continued exposure to top-tier teams is necessary for the improvement of the squad. With the next spot up on the World Rugby rankings only seven elusive points away, it is clear that given the proper impetus, it is not unthinkable that the Eagles push into the top three. Impetus, in this case, referring to a robust system to identify and develop top-talent from domestic club competitions, along with improved methods of fundraising to meet the financial needs of the organization. There has been much said in recent months about the business acumen of many serving on the USA Rugby board and other affiliates, and I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate this expertise than developing a solid foundation with which to finance a passionate team doing their best to make American rugby great again.

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