The USA Women 7s team is currently en route to Guangzhou, China, for their first international tournament of the season. The event is a solid warm-up for the 7s Eagles, who will return to the city in March during the third leg of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series (WSWS).
Eight squads will compete in the tournament, with all but two hailing from Asia. The USA's pool consists of China, which finished second to Fiji at the Asian 7s Championship earlier this month, the Philippines and Singapore. Kazakhstan, Thailand, South Africa and China 2 comprise Pool B.
The USA has fielded a fairly seasoned squad. Eight of 10 professional 7s players made the trip, including recently contracted Nathalie Marchino and Christy Ringgenberg, who are also the eldest of the group. The injured Vanesha McGee and Kaelene Lundstrum remained at home.
Emilie Bydwell and Vix Folayan add a lot of punch to the lineup as well and are no strangers to the international circuit. Rebekah Siebach (Women's Cougar Rugby) and Lauren Doyle (Eastern Illinois) are the two college students on board. Siebach has been in the pool for a couple of years now but hasn't made the travel squad during the last few international tournaments. Doyle will be the only player seeking her first 7s cap after catching USA 7s Women's coach Ric Suggitt's eye at the club 7s championship last August. Doyle and fellow EIU teammates linked up with Chicago North Shore for the summer and integrated nicely into the senior women's program.
While this tournament is the most prolific that Guangzhou has hosted, it's missing a level of competition against which the USA is accustomed. China, South Africa and Kazakhstan to an extent will provide good matches, but Singapore, Thailand and the Phillippines field smaller, developing squads. The USA's return trip to Guangzhou next year will be more telling, when the Eagles join fellow core teams - Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand - and hopefully stronger, regional teams like Japan, Hong Kong and Fiji.
Stay tuned for details as they evolve.