The 2013-2014 Women's Sevens World Series kicks off early Thanksgiving Day morning for USA fans, as the Eagles and 11 other national teams begin the second season for the women.
7he Sevens Stadium will play host to Round One in a series that has expanded to five rounds this season, including Atlanta Feb 15-16.
New Zealand won the inaugural competition last season, and went on to claim the maiden Series, but they know that the competition will be tougher this time around.
"Every single team here is good quality, and there are no weak links that I've seen" said New Zealand captain Huriana Manuel. "We've got a lot to work on from last year, we've got new, young players in the squad and I'm excited to play with those girls. From our side of things, preparations have been going well and we're all set for kick-off."
In New Zealand's Pool A is Fiji, Ireland ... and the USA.
The Eagles have undergone some significant change this year, with some new college talent - Rebekah Siebach, Amelia Villines, Dana Meschisi, Megan Bonny - combining with basketball crossover Lorrie Clifford and former football player Liz Sowers
Head Coach Ric Suggitt has been aggressive in getting players from other sports to try rugby 7s. He is taking a bit of a leap with those players, but he knows it.
Suggitt told Jackie Finlan in the October issue of RUGBY Magazine that he first looks for whether the new players are prepared to take a hit and make a tackle.
After that, he looks for attributes such as fitness, and coachability. But, he added, "you’re also taking a gamble. They had never played rugby until they were [at the Olympic Training Center].”
Changes may still be in the offing, said Suggitt.
“As you keep trying to morph your team into a championship team, you always
hope that something potentially better comes along for you,” Suggitt said. “If we
can produce it here — great — if we can’t, then we have to keep searching for what
will help us there.”
Last season was a relatively successful one for the USA. They finished ranked 4th behind (in order) New Zealand, England, and Canada. They made the final of the USA tournament in Houston, and finished 3rd at the World Cup. But upending those top three has provied elusive.
The IRB Women's Sevens World Series will be streamed live on wsws.irb.com from Dubai, beginning at 1AM PT, 4AM ET Thursday morning.